Obama Officials to Cash Out at Top Lobbying Firms

Obama Officials to Cash Out at Top Lobbying Firms

President Barack Obama campaigned on shutting the revolving door that allows administration officials to peddle their influence on K-Street, but top administration officials are looking to land some of the highest-paying lobbying jobs during Obama’s second term. Some top-level officials had already been in negotiations with lobbying firms before Obama even won reelection.   

According to The Hill, “several Obama aides started making post-election plans well before November, holding discussions with executive search firms in Washington as early as this past spring” and “asked to be kept in mind for jobs after the election.”

They just wanted to ensure they were not caught making these solicitations before the election. “You didn’t want to get caught with your pants down on Nov. 6,” said Chris Jones, managing partner at CapitolWorks.

Even worse, K-Street recruiters said these officials can easily go around Obama’s Executive Order that bans “former officials from lobbying the administration while he is in office.”

One executive said:

“They can still direct those activities. If you’re asking someone to go run a whole department, they can go ask someone to make a call. It’s not that big a deal. Clients recognize that as well.”

Another K-Street executive said:

“I don’t think the president’s stance on ethics and government hinders these people coming out of the administration. The fact they can’t lobby their former colleagues is not a determinative factor when we are looking to hire somebody.”  

Three top officials are already headed to K-Street:

Alan Hoffman, Vice President Biden’s deputy chief of staff, is joining PepsiCo as its new senior vice president of global public policy and government affairs.

Dora Hughes, a counselor to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is joining Sidley Austin as a senior policy adviser.

Joanna Martin, a special assistant to President Obama for presidential personnel, has joined Korn/Ferry International as a principal.

Salaries for former Obama cabinet officials could start at $1 million while former assistants and special assistants can make more than $500,000 and $300,000, respectively. 

According to The Hill, “administration officials are in a much better position than they would have been had Mitt Romney won the White House” because a “Republican takeover would have saturated the job market with former Obama officials scrambling to find new employment” and “their worth would have plummeted as well with Obama leaving Washington.”

“Their value has gone up. It’s a great Christmas present for everyone in the administration,” Ivan Adler, a principal at McCormick Group told The Hill. “It’s always better to be in power than out of power in Washington.”

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