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America Celebrates Obama, But Democrats Celebrate Lobbyists

jane_hamsher_obama.jpgWe came.  We saw.  We partied.

On the whole I’d rather be home watching TV with the dogs, but the passing of the baton from George W. Bush to Barack Obama is the kind of momentus event that makes you want to brave the cold and celebrate with others.

Over the past few days I went to parties all over Washington DC — Media Matters, the DNC, Declare Yourself, FDL/Netroots Nation, the Illinois Home State Ball, the Huffington Post Ball and the Google Ball among others.  Pretty high profile celebrations with enormous crowds, and I was struck by one thing — I rarely saw Democratic politicians.  Aside from Barack and Michelle Obama at the Illinois Home State Ball, I really didn’t see any.

So if they weren’t out in public, where were they?

On the Money Trail: Lobbyists Are People Too, Reid Says

Obama Pledged to Ban Lobbyists, but Senate Leader Says They’re "Part of Washington"

In his historic speech Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama said the era of "protecting narrow interests" is over – an echo of his campaign promise that lobbyists and special interests would lose their clout in his White House. But lobbyists still have defenders in Washington D.C., including one of Obama’s most powerful allies, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada).

Reid invited top lobbyists to join him and his supporters for an inaugural brunch Monday where he told ABC News that he will still do plenty of business with them.

"And there’s nothing wrong with that," said Reid. "And Obama will be meeting with them too." When asked to clarify his remarks, given Obama’s promises to change that part of Capitol culture, Reid responded that lobbyists are part and parcel of the job.

"People should understand that lobbyists, per se, are someone’s father, mother, son, daughter," said Reid. "They work for a living." The Democratic leader’s sons and a son-in-law have worked as lobbyists.


Lobbyists funded an array of events including a party to honor the state of Montana that took place in a nightclub decorated with artificial snow and snowboard machine rides. Why hold a party for Montana? The state is also home to Democratic Senator Max Baucus who is now the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which writes the country’s tax laws.

"One little tweak in the code or additional comma or dropped word can have a huge impact on the tax liabilities of companies worth billions of dollars," said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Lobbyists Funded Extravagant Inaugural Parties

Lobbyists along with their corporate and union clients put up the money for some of the most extravagant inaugural parties, including the former vice-President Al Gore’s Green Ball, the California Society’s luncheon fashion show, and the Congressional Black Caucus cocktail party.

And as the Presidential motorcade made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue Tuesday, top lobbyists, lawyers, and corporate executives in many of the offices above were watching as hors d’oevres were passed and champagne was flowing.

"The lobbyists know that they were here before President Obama got elected and they certainly plan on being here after he’s out of office," said Ellis.

Well, I guess that’s my answer.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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