Ben Smith reports on a Miami Beach retreat of sorts that several Democratic Senators went to this past weekend. But it wasn’t all sun and fun – the real treat was getting to mingle with the evil lobbyists, you know, the ones Obama dissed in the SOTU just days ago?
Twelve Democratic Senators spent last weekend in Miami Beach raising money from top lobbyists for oil, drug, and other corporate interests that they often decry, according to a guest list for the event obtained by POLITICO.
The guest list for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s “winter retreat” at the Ritz Carlton South Beach Resort doesn’t include the price tag for attendance, but the maximum contribution to the committee, typical for such events, is $30,000. There, to participate in “informal conversations” and other meetings Saturday, were senators including DSCC Chairman Robert Menendez; Michigan’s Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Claire McCaskill of Missouri; freshmen Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Begich of Alaska; and even left-leaning Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Across the table was a who’s who of 108 senior Washington lobbyists, including the top lobbying officials for many of the industries Democrats regularly attack: Represented were the American Bankers Association, the tobaco company Altria, the oil company Marathon, several drug manufacturers, the defense contractor Lockheed, and most of the large independent lobbying firms: Ogilvy, BGR, Quinn Gillespie, Heather Podesta, and Tony Podesta.
The retreat’s guest list is a marked contrast to Menendez’s recent rhetoric, which has echoed the White House denunciation of “special interests” and “fat cats.”
“In the upcoming elections, voters will face a choice between Republicans who are standing with Wall Street fat cats, bankers and insurance companies — or Democrats who are working hard to clean up the mess we inherited by putting the people’s interests ahead of the special interests,” Menendez said in a press release last Wednesday.
And he’s not the only hypocritical “say one thing, do something different” Democrat post-Obama SOTU speech. Even the WH itself cozied up to lobbyists – the day after The Big Speech:
A day after bashing lobbyists, President Barack Obama’s administration has invited K Street insiders to join private briefings on a range of topics addressed in Wednesday’s State of the Union.
The Treasury Department on Thursday morning invited selected individuals to “a series of conference calls with senior Obama administration officials to discuss key aspects of the State of the Union address.”
The invitation, which went to a variety of stakeholders, was sent by Fred Baldassaro, a senior adviser at the Treasury Department’s Office of Business Affairs and Public Liaison.
The invitation stated, “The White House is encouraging you to participate in these calls and will have a question and answer session at the end of each call. As a reminder, these calls are not intended for press purposes.”
The calls are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, with the first topic being job creation and economic growth.
Another call, at 1 p.m., is on government reform and transparency.
Er – “calls not intended for press purposes” with one of the calls being about goverment “transparency”? I swear, you cannot make this stuff up! Just to refresh your memory on what the President said in the SOTU last week:
To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue — to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve. (Applause.)
That’s what I came to Washington to do. That’s why -– for the first time in history –- my administration posts on our White House visitors online. That’s why we’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions.
But we can’t stop there. It’s time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It’s time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.
You know what? It’s not so much that wining and dining lobbyists is exclusive to Democrats; we all know it’s not, but it’s Republicans who always take the heat for having ties and associations to “big money” special interest lobbyists. But as we’ve seen time and time again, this administration’s hypocrisy on the issue – heck, the entire Dem party’s hypocrisy, for that matter – stinks to high heaven and makes me want to quote Joe Wilson all over again, which I will:
President Obama, Democrat party: You lie!