Geithner names ex-lobbyist as Treasury chief of staff
By Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner picked a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist as a top aide Tuesday, the same day he announced rules aimed at reducing the role of lobbyists in agency decisions.
Mark Patterson will serve as Geithner’s chief of staff at Treasury, which oversees the government’s $700 billion financial bailout program. Goldman Sachs received $10 billion of that money.
Treasury spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said Patterson “brings significant expertise to the job.” Patterson, who left the investment bank in April, signed the administration’s ethics pledge, which requires him to recuse himself from issues “directly and substantially related to my former employer.”
Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said President Obama was retreating from his own ethics rules barring lobbyists from working on the issues they lobbied about during the previous two years. “It makes it appear that they are saying one thing and doing another,” she said.
The White House waived the rules Friday for William Lynn, who lobbied for a defense contractor last year, to serve as deputy Defense secretary.
Geithner issued rules Tuesday to restrict lobbyists from contacting Treasury about bailout issues.
A USA TODAY review of Obama hires shows that 21 have registered as federal lobbyists, although most have not done so within the past two years. They include White House aide Cecilia Muñoz, who lobbied last year for the National Council of La Raza, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who lobbied in 2007 for a national teachers union.
White House spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Obama is following through on his commitment to operate under strict ethical standards.
Dave Wenhold, of the American League of Lobbyists, said lobbyists bring expertise to the job. “Just because you are registered to lobby doesn’t mean that you are evil, ” he said.
No, but it *DOES* mean that Obama made a promise during the campaign he had no intention of honoring.
That would make him disingenuous at best; and a liar at the worst. Just another politician.