Once again, play the game where you imagine a Republican administration doing what this one is doing and the fallout that would follow:
President Obama, who campaigned so passionately against what he called the “revolving door” between the highest levels of government and the lobbying/influence business, has absolutely no problem with it when his friends do it.
The White House assures us that Plouffe merely went to speak to the company about “mobile technology and digital communications.” It was merely his technical expertise, and not his connection to the president, that spurred MTN Group to spend $100,000, and probably about $5,000-$10,000 on air fare (how likely is it that Plouffe flew coach, or had many layovers?) and more on lodging.
Now, how many speeches are worth $110,000 to a company? What could President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager have to say about “mobile technology and digital communications” that would create $110,000 in value to a telecommunications company?
Perhaps Plouffe really is that smart. Or perhaps what made him worth the expense was his relationship to the president – and perhaps MTN Group, like many large international business, felt it would be good to have friends in high places. Friends in high places are often for sale once the campaigns end or they leave government work. It’s all legal, both sides do it, and attempting to ban it would probably create more problems than it would solve. (For example, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle provides “strategic advice on public policy matters” to a law firm that is one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, but he insists that he does not lobby.)
Government work and campaign work often don’t pay very well. But those who choose that path can develop relationships with powerful people – and thus, once a campaign or government worker has built up enough solid relationships with powerful lawmakers, they can cash in on the decades of effort with highly-compensated “totally not a lobbyist” jobs like Daschle’s, or through extremely well-compensated speaking gigs like Plouffe. Again, both sides do it.
But as a candidate, Obama explicitly and loudly denounced this phenomenon, and he ran ads on it: “The chairman of the committee who pushed the law through went to work for the pharmaceutical industry, making $2 million a year. Imagine that! That’s an example of the same-old game playing in Washington. I don’t want to play the game better, I want to put an end to the game-playing.”
No. You. Don't.
You. Really. Don't.