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Across From the WH, Coffee with Lobbyists


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New York Times:

Across From White House, Coffee With Lobbyists

Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — There are no Secret Service agents posted next to the barista and no presidential seal on the ceiling, but the Caribou Coffee across the street from the White House has become a favorite meeting spot to conduct Obama administration business.

Here at the Caribou on Pennsylvania Avenue, and a few other nearby coffee shops, White House officials have met hundreds of times over the last 18 months with prominent K Street lobbyists — members of the same industry that President Obama has derided for what he calls its “outsized influence” in the capital.

On the agenda over espressos and lattes, according to more than a dozen lobbyists and political operatives who have taken part in the sessions, have been front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control — and their impact on the lobbyists’ corporate clients.

But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the “most transparent presidential administration in history.”

The off-site meetings, lobbyists say, reveal a disconnect between the Obama administration’s public rhetoric — with Mr. Obama himself frequently thrashing big industries’ “battalions” of lobbyists as enemies of reform — and the administration’s continuing, private dealings with them.

Rich Gold, a prominent Democratic lobbyist who has taken part in a number of meetings at Caribou Coffee, said that White House staff members “want to follow the president’s guidance of reducing the influence of special interests, and yet they have to do their job and have the best information available to them to make decisions.”

Mr. Gold added that the administration’s policy of posting all White House visits, combined with pressure to not be seen as meeting too frequently with lobbyists, leave staff members “betwixt and between.”

White House officials said there was nothing improper about the off-site meetings.

“The Obama administration has taken unprecedented steps to increase the openness and transparency of the White House,” said Dan Pfeiffer, director of communications. “We expect that all White House employees adhere to their obligations under our very stringent ethics rules regardless of who they are meeting with or where they meet.”

Attempts to put distance between the White House and lobbyists are not limited to meetings. Some lobbyists say that they routinely get e-mail messages from White House staff members’ personal accounts rather than from their official White House accounts, which can become subject to public review. Administration officials said there were some permissible exceptions to a federal law requiring staff members to use their official accounts and retain the correspondence.

And while Mr. Obama has imposed restrictions on hiring lobbyists for government posts, the administration has used waivers and recusals more than two dozen times to appoint lobbyists to political positions. Two lobbyists also cited instances in which the White House had suggested that a job candidate be “deregistered” as a lobbyist in Senate records to avoid violating the administration’s hiring restrictions.

A senior White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that in “a small number of cases,” people might have been “wrongly” registered as lobbyists, based on federal standards. The official said that while the White House might have discussed such instances of possible “over-registration,” he was “quite confident that no lobbying shop has been instructed to deregister anyone.”

Many lobbyists still get in the front door at the White House — nearly 1,000 times, according to a New York Times examination of public White House visitors’ logs and lobbying registration records.

Those logs, though, present an incomplete picture. For instance, many of the entries do not reflect who actually took part in a meeting. The “visitee” often shows up not as the White House official who was the host, but as the administrative assistant who arranged the meeting.snip
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If I were an enterprising young journalist with a video camera, I might just station myself right outside....in a completely non partisan way of course. Making a record for history.

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If I were an enterprising young journalist with a video camera, I might just station myself right outside....in a completely non partisan way of course. Making a record for history.

Any enterprising young journalist with a camera could have taken an amazing photo-montage of this most frequent guest at the White House... and also in his prior days as the frequent go-between for Obama to Blago and Rezko.

 

They could have burned up their last rolls of KodaChrome on this one.

 

andy_stern.jpg

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If I were an enterprising young journalist with a video camera, I might just station myself right outside....in a completely non partisan way of course. Making a record for history.

Any enterprising young journalist with a camera could have taken an amazing photo-montage of this most frequent guest at the White House... and also in his prior days as the frequent go-between for Obama to Blago and Rezko.

 

They could have burned up their last rolls of KodaChrome on this one.

 

andy_stern.jpg

 

KodaChrome! my my you are dating yourself. :P

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KodaChrome! my my you are dating yourself.

 

Valin!

 

Yup... and I threw that in to mark this recent date in history.

 

06/22/2010

Today in History

 

On this day in 2009, Eastman Kodak Company announced that it will discontinue sales of the Kodachrome Color Film, concluding its 74-year run as a photography icon.

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Really astounded to see that it's the NY Slimes that is reporting that the lobbyists know it's a dodge by the regime to keep things off of the visitors' log. .......I guess Emanuel and Axelrod were wetting their britches when all of the media was reporting a few months ago that the head man of SEIU was the MOST frequent visitor, so they came up with this dodge. ....Idiots have even begun to lose the cover of the liberal print and TV media who have awakened and realize they have been backing a real loser for years. ...OCTex

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