NYTs Touts Lobbyists, WH Adviser As Good Government Types To Pressure Oversight Committee

November 18, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol 

Via an op-ed in the New York Times, Congressional Quarterly staff writer, Brian Friel, offers the incoming GOP-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee some suggestions as to what they perhaps should and should not consider investigating next year. What’s unclear is how Friel determined that two registered lobbyists who lobby the Oversight committee and an unpaid White House adviser should, without full disclosure, be portrayed as three of “14 good-government watchdogs — veterans of the oversight process, former public officials, and academics” for purposes of his presumably objective op-ed.

Brian Friel is a staff writer at Congressional Quarterly. The oversight experts consulted were: Joel Aberbach, Steven Aftergood, Ryan Alexander, Danielle Brian, Dan Donovan, Linda L. Fowler, Philip G. Joyce, Donald F. Kettl, David Marin, Conrad Martin, Patricia G. Mcginnis, David Osborne, Andrew Rudalevige, Gerry Sikorski.

David Marin and Gerry Sikorski, are registered lobbyists who actually lobby the Oversight Committee on behalf of their clients. Marin works at the lobbying firm the Podesta Group, which lobbies the Oversight Committee on behalf of General Motors. Sikorski works for the lobbying firm Holland & Knight, which has also lobbied the Oversight Committee. Their clients include the American Arbitration Association and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Tennessee and Minnesota.

Interestingly enough, neither the bailout of the automotive industry, nor the implementation of ObamaCare made the list of oversight priorities assembled by these “14 good-government watchdogs.” Given that lobbyists are already seen as a big enough problem in Washington, it’s unclear to me as to why they should now perhaps seem to be lobbying from the editorial pages of the New York Times, especially while being portrayed as good government watchdogs, not the lobbyists they appear to be.

Along with Marin and Sikorski, Friel also cites Patricia G. McGinnis. As an unpaid White House advisor to the administration on leadership programs for Presidential Appointees. Again, one would think McGinnis’ realtionship with the White House should have been disclosed under the circumstances. She was previously cited by NewsBusters given a similar issue involving the Washington Post:

According to a July 2 article posted on RawStory.com by Ron Brynaert, there is an undisclosed connection between the Obama White House and the Post. Brynaert notes in the Post’s July 2 report from Ed O’Keefe, the whopping $ 38.7-million payroll of the Obama administration reveals there are three people that aren’t taking a salary, which O’Keefe fails to name. One of those is Patricia G. McGinnis, “Advisor to the Obama White House on leadership programs for Presidential Appointees.” But there is more to McGinnis, which Brynaert pointed out. (h/t mattsheffield)

“McGinnis’ Georgetown biography notes that she “is the former President and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government, where she created and led a number of innovative programs to improve the performance of government, during her 14 year tenure” and also ‘serves [as] a panelist and blogger for the Washington Post ‘On Leadership’ website.’”

Big Journalism


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