Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

More State of the Union

A section of our story "Obama’s State of the Union Address" was inadvertently dropped when we posted the article Thursday. It shows that Obama spoke a little too sweepingly when he claimed that lobbyists have been cut out of policymaking jobs in his administration. We’ve added the section to the piece, and we include it below:

K St. to the White House: Road Almost Closed

Obama touted his efforts to change Washington’s ways.

Obama: [W]e’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs or seats on federal boards and commissions.

Obama, by executive order last January, did put in place the federal government’s first-ever reverse-revolving door policy, which says that anyone who has lobbied within the previous two years can’t join a part of the administration that he or she lobbied.

The order allows for waivers, however, and several have been granted. For instance, Jocelyn Frye, who used to lobby on employment and gender discrimination, became director of policy and projects for Michelle Obama; Cecilia Muñoz, who formerly lobbied for the National Council of La Raza, was appointed White House director of intergovernmental affairs; and former Raytheon lobbyist William Lynn became deputy secretary of defense.

Obama might have been trying to leave himself some wiggle room when he specified "policymaking jobs." But Lynn’s job sounds to us like it involves policymaking. And it’s hard to claim that Ron Kirk, the United States trade representative, doesn’t have a policymaking role. Kirk didn’t need a waiver because he was a lobbyist — for Merrill Lynch and others — in Texas, not Washington, but Obama made no such distinction in his statement Wednesday night.