Former lobbyist Steve Ricchetti will be named Vice President Joe Biden’s new chief of staff next month, another violation of the administration's pledge that lobbyists will not have a place in the Obama White House.
Ricchetti lobbied for the firm until 2008, and had multiple high profile clients including AT&T, Fannie Mae, and General Motors.
President Barack Obama famously pledged during his campaign in 2008 to change the way Washington works "so that lobbyists and special interests aren’t driving the process."
"[Lobbyists] have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I’m president," remarked Obama at a 2008 campaign event.
The White House knew that it would face backlash when it initially hired Ricchetti, according to a top Obama adviser quoted in Mark Leibovich’s This Town. However, Biden really wanted him and the administration did not that outrage over breaking the lobbyist ban would have much traction.
"This had become the essential Team Obama MO whenever the cynical realities of Washington collided with its shiny ideals from 2008," writes Leibovich. "Wait out the indignant blog posts and press releases, and move on. That lobbying ban was so four years ago anyway."
Obama even attacked Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton for her connections to Ricchetti, who raised at least $100,000 for the Clinton campaign, for requesting earmarks that would have benefited clients he was lobbying for.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote upon Ricchetti’s initial hiring that it is demonstrative of "just how flimsy Obama’s ethical reforms have been."
Ricchetti’s promotion within White House ranks is the latest violation of Obama’s pledge against having recent lobbyists in his administration.
The Center for Responsive Politics finds that 130 current or former registered lobbyists have gone through the "Revolving Door" into Obama’s administration.
Obama’s pledge was an attempt to influence Obama’s campaign image and has meant nothing in reality, according to current lobbyists.
"The pledge is more a PR thing than anything else," said a lobbyist executive. "When you need to get around it, you get around it. It’s a joke, and everyone knows it’s a joke."