What the Former Obama Lawyer's Defection for Goldman Sachs Says About 'Transparency' in Washington
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The investment bank, under fire from the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly defrauding its investors, has hired former White House counsel Greg Craig to aide its cause. Craig's new gig confirms what many government ethics observers predicted: despite the president's initial efforts to reform
As his first presidential act, Obama issued an executive order detailing how
Craig provides an important test case for the path Obama appointees could take after leaving office. An early Obama supporter, Craig was mentioned as a candidate for Secretary of State before he landed in the counsel's office. During the first year of Obama's presidency, Craig worked to close the prison at
Now, instead of advising the president, Craig will advise a company that helped create another one of the dark clouds hanging over the country. Technically, Craig is not violating President Obama's ethics order. He is barred for two years from appearing before or lobbying the White House and its executive offices. In Craig’s case, Obama's order doesn't cover work with the SEC, which as an independent agency was not part of the former counsel’s official responsibilities. So far the White House has not had much to say about Craig’s new client; the press office did not respond to requests for comment from AlterNet.
When it comes to exercising influence, Goldman knows what it's doing. The Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors money in politics, last week called the company "one of the largest wielders of political clout." In the last election cycle, the firm's financial footprint totaled about $6 million, according to CRP, which analyzed contributions from "people and political action committees associated with Goldman Sachs." CRP also found that Goldman’s employees contributed more to Barack Obama’s war chest than did any other group in the private sector.
So Goldman probably isn't terribly worried about the fact that Craig can't parlay with the White House for a while: the company has plenty of other lobbyists listing it as a client— 49 at last count—including former majority leader Dick Gephardt and Kenneth Duberstein, who served as chief of staff to Ronald Reagan.