JUNE 03, 2009
Even after the U.S. government takes over General Motors the company will continue its multimillion-dollar Capitol Hill lobbying operation and the failing automaker may keep its lucrative contracts with some of the wealthiest and most influential firms in Washington.
So, despite government ownership, GM will keep lobbying Congress and federal agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. That means that some of the jobs that the Obama Administration will save with the unprecedented nationalization could be in downtown D.C. lobbying firms rather than Detroit.
GM spent $13.1 on lobbying in 2008, according to the news report that revealed the automaker won’t cease that portion of its operation. While surviving on federal bailout money in the first quarter of this year, GM spent nearly $3 million on lobbying, the report says. In fact, Washington’s most powerful lobbying firms are among the 14 the company employed as of the last filings.
If in fact if GM continues its current lobbying practices, many of Washington’s top lobbyists will in effect be paid with taxpayer dollars. Additionally, GM runs its own in-house lobbying department out of an upscale office in D.C.’s Constitution Avenue across from the Capitol. Under Obama’s new plan, taxpayers will cover well over half of that in-house lobbying operation.
Ironically, one of Obama’s key campaign promises was to ban lobbyists from his administration (“Lobbyists won’t find a job in my White House.”), although he’s repeatedly violated the rule. The president has issued “ethics waivers” to appoint at least a dozen lobbyists—including a prominent La Raza official—to high-profile positions in his administration.
Other registered lobbyists working in Obama’s White House include an attorney general who lobbied on behalf of a bankrupt telecommunications firm, a deputy defense secretary who lobbied for a defense contractor and a domestic policy advisor who lobbied for liberal advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union.
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