A number of posts have discussed the "revolving door" between interest groups and the government, along with the phenomenon of non-lobbying lobbying.
The decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a political headache for President Obama. But to five of his former aides, it represents a business opportunity.
Four of them — Bill Burton, Stephanie Cutter, Jim Papa and Paul Tewes — work as consultants for opponents of the project, which would carry heavy crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. Another, former White House communications director Anita Dunn, counts the project’s sponsor, TransCanada, among the clients of her communications firm.
Keystone XL is just one of several upcoming administration decisions providing lucrative work for former Obama advisers on issues ranging from gun control to mining to legalized gambling. Just this week, three of Obama’s top former political advisers —Robert Gibbs, Jim Messina and David Plouffe — were given five-figure checks to deliver remarks at a forum in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, which is in the midst of a campaign to burnish its image in Washington.
Obama came into office promising that his administration would hew to higher standards than his predecessors did. He implemented rules barring former aides from directly lobbying the government for two years and frequently decries the influence of “special interests” in Washington.
But the efforts have done little to slow a tide of groups hiring former top aides as highly paid consultants, speakers and media advisers in an effort to influence the administration — part of a longtime Washington practice in which interest groups seek access to the White House by hiring people who used to work there.