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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
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Lobbyists in the Transition

POSTED: 12:49 PM ET, 11/19/2008 by Derek Kravitz

More than a dozen members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team have worked as registered lobbyists within the past four years, The Washington Post's Matthew Mosk reported this weekend.

The list includes former lobbyists for the nation's trial lawyers association, mortgage giant Fannie Mae, drug companies such as Amgen, high-tech firms such as Microsoft, labor unions and the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Here are some of Obama's key transition team members, along with their lobbyist credentials:


John Podesta (By Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

Podesta, 59, is a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton and the founder of the Center for American Progress.

As director of Obama's presidential transition team, Podesta pledged to institute the "strictest" ethics policies regarding lobbying of any presidential transition in history.

In 1998, Podesta and his brother, Tony Podesta, founded the lobbying group Podesta Associates. Podesta has also lobbied heavily for the think tank he helped found.

The Podesta firm (then named Podesta Mattoon) received $980,000 from the anti-nuclear energy public affairs firm Brown and Partners in 2002 to lobby against a bill that would have allowed the creation of a nuclear waste repository in Nevada's Yucca Mountain, Public Citizen reports. John Podesta was one of 10 lobbyists on the account.

Podesta clients included the Greenspun Corp., eBay, the Nevada Resort Association and the American Insurance Association.


Ron Klain (By staff / AP)

Klain, the newly minted chief of staff to Vice President-elect Joe Biden who also served as chief of staff to former vice president Al Gore, did lobbying work during his stint as a lawyer in the Washington office of O'Melveny & Myers LLP. The firm was paid nearly $700,000 for lobbying projects undertaken by Klain with others at the firm.

The clients included ImClone Systems Inc., Fannie Mae and the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, which was identified by the nonpartisan government watchdog group Public Citizen as a "front group for GAF Materials Corporation, a roofing company facing huge liabilities related to asbestos-exposure lawsuits." Klain left the law firm in 2005.

Klain's lobbying duties were just a "small part" of his job, Politico's Kenneth P. Vogel notes. Obama transition spokesman Tommy Vietor told Vogel that lobbying amounted to "approximately 10 percent" of Klain's work at the law firm in any given year.

But Vogel also noted that Klain's lobbying past "in some ways epitomizes the side of the influence industry that Obama decried during his campaign: big companies paying Beltway insiders lots of money to craft laws and rules that help them,"


Sally Katzen (By Ray Lustig / Washington Post)

Katzen, 66, is the former deputy director for management in President Bill Clinton's Office of Management and Budget and a well-known Washington attorney and law professor.

She is also on the 12 member supervisory group for Obama's transition team, as well as the office of the president and government operations teams. Attention has been drawn to her lobbying work last year for the pharmaceutical company Amgen on Medicare reimbursements.

Senate lobbying disclosure reports show Katzen billed $10,500 worth of work for Amgen in 2007.


Mark Gitenstein (Photo Courtesy Sen. Joseph R. Biden)

Gitenstein, a law partner at the firm Mayer Brown LLP and a former chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, is on the advisory board for Biden's transition into office.

House records show Gitenstein was a registered lobbyist as of June, and his client list is a virtual who's who of major industry, many of whom are seeking help amid the Wall Street financial crisis: Arthur Andersen, AT&T, Boeing Co., the Chicago Stock Exchange, General Dynamics, General Electric Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Merrill Lynch, PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As recently as this year, Gitenstein received $160,000 from Merrill Lynch, the New York firm that sold itself to Bank of America to avoid bankruptcy, Senate lobbying disclosure forms show.

By Derek Kravitz |  November 19, 2008; 12:49 PM ET
Previous: Ethanol Is Boon for Lobbyists | Next: Minnesota Recount Begins Today


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Who is kidding whom? To think that a guy who voted with his party over 97% of the time is going to be anything but a partisan hack is totally delusional. Did he have a lobotomy that the public isn't aware of or something?

One of the reasons our country is in our current mess is that both parties are so preoccupied in not allowing the other party to accomplish anything - they would rather see it go into the tank than let the other party get credit. His voting record clearly shows Obama is the worst offender.

You will see only two changes from Obama. The unraveling of the economy will be hastened with all the give a ways which are to be funded by a massive increase in taxes and the bowling alley downstairs will be replaced by basketball court.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | November 19, 2008 2:57 PM

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