Another Empty Ethics Promise Exposed

Conn Carroll /

U.S. President Barack Obama signs executive order on Executive Branch ethics as Vice President Joe Biden watches on during a signing ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on January 21, 2009. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch)

When he signed executive orders which supposedly tightened federal ethics rules for White House officials, President Barack Obama said, “We need to make the White House the people’s house, and we need to close the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely and lets them use their time in public service as a way to promote their own interests over the interests of the American people when they leave.”

Already the Obama Administration has already signed dozens of waivers that completely undermine their executive orders by allowing lobbyists to work for the Administration. But now Politico reports that the borken promises extend to the flow of Obama personnel to K Street and not just from it:

The latest news is that the political director for Barack Obama’s campaign, Matthew Nugen, is joining Ogilvy Government Relations as a “strategic adviser.”

His announcement follows that of Bryan Cave’s hiring of Jeff Berman, who directed Obama’s national delegate operation, and former Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle’s ignominious return to the law and lobbying shop Alston & Bird.

Ogilvy also made a key concession, allowing Nugen to come on board as a strategist rather than as a registered lobbyist — a title difference that could later allow him to circumvent Obama’s general ban on hiring lobbyists at the White House.

“I wanted to reserve my right to join the administration,” Nugen readily acknowledged. Daschle had plotted a similar course, serving as an adviser to Alston & Bird lobbying teams but never officially joining them.

So just like Daschle, Nugen is going to be a “strategist”, not a lobbyist, and this completely semantic change is expected to allow him to skirt the Obama Administration’s executive orders too. Do Obama’s executive order’s mean anything?