Just one week after a White House waiver opened the door for a former Raytheon lobbyist to become second-in-command at the Pentagon, it's being reported today that Mark Patterson, a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, is in line to become Chief of Staff at the Treasury Department.
As recently as April 2008, Patterson was registered as a lobbyist at the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., working on issues such as foreclosure prevention, credit default swaps, and over-the-counter derivatives. It should also be noted that Goldman Sachs has received $10 billion in bailout funds under Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
Patterson's appointment to such a high-level position at Treasury flies in the face of President Obama's commitment to restore government integrity by curbing the influence of lobbyists. In a recent speech to senior staff and cabinet secretaries, President Obama reaffirmed his belief that executive branch officials must honor the basic obligations of public service:
...the American people deserve more than simply an assurance that those who are coming to Washington will serve their interests. They also deserve to know that there are rules on the books to keep it that way. They deserve a government that is truly of, by, and for the people. As I often said during the campaign, we need to make the White House the people's house. And we need to close the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely, and lets them use their time in public service as a way to promote their own interests over the interests of the American people when they leave.
Patterson's appointment also undermines the spirit of the new rules issued today by recently confirmed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to limit the influence of lobbyists on Treasury's bailout effort.
-- Michael Smallberg