Former Obama Aides Begin to Reel in Major Cash

Stephanie Cutter / AP

Former aides to President Barack Obama are beginning to capitalize on high-paying opportunities to take sides on key issues that the president will face in his second term.

Despite Obama’s stated intentions to put an end to former aides representing "special interest" groups in Washington, members of his old team are getting hired in droves by the very groups that will need the presidents support most.

The Washington Post reports:

"Obama came into office promising that his administration would hew to higher standards than his predecessors did. He implemented rules barring former aides from directly lobbying the government for two years and frequently decries the influence of "special interests" in Washington.

But the efforts have done little to slow a tide of groups hiring former top aides as highly paid consultants, speakers and media advisers in an effort to influence the administration — part of a longtime Washington practice in which interest groups seek access to the White House by hiring people who used to work there."

One issue former aides are cashing in on from groups on both sides of the debate is the Keystone XL pipeline decision:

"The decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a political headache for President Obama. But to five of his former aides, it represents a business opportunity.

Four of them — Bill Burton, Stephanie Cutter, Jim Papa and Paul Tewes — work as consultants for opponents of the project, which would carry heavy crude oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. Another, former White House communications director Anita Dunn, counts the project’s sponsor, TransCanada, among the clients of her communications firm."

It does not end there.

Former administration spokesman Tommy Vietor and speechwriter Jon Favreau have been hired by Trout Unlimited to help lobby the Environmental Protection Agency. The two are longtime drinking buddies.

The head of the Obama campaign’s data analytics team is also cashing in, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Dan Wagner, chief analytics officer for Obama’s 2012 campaign, just received millions from Google chairman Eric Schmidt to start his own company. The company will be staffed by dozens of former campaign employees and will attempt to profit off the "micro-targeting" strategy that worked so well for Obama. The company will work exclusively for Democrats.

Other top aides such as Jim Messina have started their own consulting firms.

Robert Gibbs and Ben LaBolt are even joining forces to create a "strategic communications" firm of their own.