Isn't this a conflict of interest? Government Motors hiring lobbyists
to use taxpayers money to influence government at the top? Sort of like
government bribing government?
Made tiny: http://tinyurl.com/yafh4qy
GM rehires lobbyists -- and taxpayers foot the bill
By: Timothy P. Carney
December 30, 2009
If you've flown into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and your
plane took the northern approach coming down the Potomac, you may have
looked out the window at the five-, six- or seven-bedroom homes on both
the Maryland and Virginia sides of the river, with three-car garages and
swimming pools. Thanks to the Obama administration and General Motors,
your tax dollars are now subsidizing the millionaire lobbyists who live
in these neighborhoods.
GM, the failed carmaker whose $400 million in monthly losses is borne
mostly by U.S. taxpayers, has in recent months hired high-priced K
Street lobbyists to petition Washington for subsidies, special tax
breaks and other government favors on top of the $52 billion in aid the
Treasury has already provided.
In June, GM began firing its outside lobbyists as part of downsizing its
entire $10 million-a-year lobbying operation. As company spokesman Greg
Martin told Roll Call, "We have begun notifying our outside consultants
that we will be terminating their contracts." But GM has since rehired
two of its old K Street firms, the Duberstein Group and Greenberg
Traurig, and picked up new representation in the firm GrayLoeffler.
Rounding out GM's K Street quartet is the well-connected Washington Tax
Group, which began representing the company in 2007 and kept its
affiliation with GM over the summer, according to a search of the House
and Senate lobbying databases. GM's Martin told me Monday that these
were GM's only outside lobbying firms.
Among the four firms, 18 lobbyists are registered to represent GM,
including many wealthy and well-connected revolving-door players from
Former Reps. William Gray III, D-Pa., and Jim Bacchus, R-Fla., are both
on GM retainer, as are fabled Republican and Democratic operatives Ken
Duberstein (White House chief of staff under Ronald Reagan) and Michael
Berman (counsel to Vice President Walter Mondale and campaign aide to
every Democratic presidential nominee since LBJ).
Heading GM's lobbying push for expanded R&D tax credits is the
Washington Tax Group's Gregory Nickerson, formerly the top lawyer at the
tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and the staff director of the
Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. Nickerson's partner is Mary
Ellen McCarthy, formerly the top lawyer at the Senate's tax-writing
Such well-connected hired guns don't come cheap. Martin wouldn't tell me
what rates his bailed-out employer is paying the newly hired or rehired
firms (the information will be public by the end of January), but
Duberstein Group's average quarterly fee last quarter was $94,000, while
Greenberg Traurig's was $40,000 and GrayLoeffler's was $28,000. In the
third quarter, GM paid the Washington Tax Group $25,000.
GM, of course, is still owned mostly by the federal government and is
still losing money -- $1.2 billion in the third quarter. That means the
company's expenses are the taxpayer's expenses. That means you are
paying these lobbying fees. Put another way, the Obama administration,
through GM, is transferring wealth from average Americans to millionaire
former public officials.
The home values of 13 of GM's 18 lobbyists can be found in public
records. The mean assessed value of those homes was $1.13 million. Three
of GM's lobbyists have homes valued at more than $1.5 million, including
one whose home is worth $2.97 million. Your taxes are paying to shine
the chandeliers in these posh palaces.
I contacted the White House and the Treasury Department to ask whether
the administration found this arrangement appropriate, but neither
returned my calls and e-mails. None of the lobbying firms returned calls
or e-mails, either.
GM's Martin, however, called me back despite the holiday and referred me
to a statement GM issued back in June, which read, in part: "We believe
we have an obligation to remain engaged at the federal and state levels
and to have our voice heard in the policymaking process."
Why did GM fire its lobbyists and then hire them again? Martin explained
that it got rid of its outside lobbyists while it was bankrupt, but now
that the company has emerged from bankruptcy, although it is still under
government ownership, GM is lobbying again.
The auto bailouts of Presidents Bush and Obama teach us once again that
when government gets bigger, it's the well-off who fare the best.
Read more at the Washington Examiner:
Politicians don't provide anything, the tax payers do.
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