Former Obama aides are cashing in on their high-powered connections and access to President Barack Obama, reports the Washington Post.
Despite Obama’s promises to slow down Washington’s whirling revolving door, DC cronyism and influence peddling are alive and well.
Take, for example, the debate over the Keystone Pipeline. Former Obama aides Bill Burton, Stephanie Cutter, Jim Papa, and Paul Tewes now serve as consultants for groups opposed to the project. Former White House communications director Anita Dunn–whose husband is Obama’s former White House counsel Robert Bauer–has been hired by TransCanada to build support for the Keystone Pipeline.
Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs and Obama campaign strategists Jim Messina and David Plouffe are also cashing in on their relationship with Obama. Each received five-figure speaking fees to give talks in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, whose president Ilham Aliyev has come under fire for allegations of corruption and jailing dissidents, employs Washington lobbying powerhouse the Podesta Group. The firm was started by Tony and John Podesta, the latter of which served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and now heads the progressive Center for American Progress.
Other Obama aides bagging big bucks include former spokesman Tommy Vietor and former speechwriter Jon Favreau, both of whom were hired by Trout Unlimited to help to block an Alaskan gold mine.
Stephanie Cutter and former Treasury Department spokeswoman Jenni R. LeCompte count among their clients Bank of America.
Jim Messina counts Caesars Palace as a client.
DC’s rampant cronyism is not relegated just to the White House. Dozens of former DC staffers are also leveraging their access to DC power players to cash in on Wall Street.
Still, the Obama White House lauds its records in reducing special interest influence in Washington.
“Our goal has been to reduce the influence of special interests in Washington–which we’ve done more than any administration in history,” says White House spokesman Eric Schultz.