When Barack Obama came into office, he made loud statements about how his administration wouldn’t be the captive of Washington insiders and lobbyists.
But as he limps into his last two years in office (having been so thoroughly repudiated in the midterms)… he hasn’t just made peace with the insiders. He’s handed them the keys.
You see, the biggest hires in D.C. are often the most underreported. Take Martin Paone, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs in the White House, for instance.
Paone is an insider lobbyist who has spent his career selling his D.C. connections to the highest bidder.
And he currently has Obama in the palm of his hand.
Just how much influence does Paone have? Enough to dominate the Senate?
Climbing to the Top
Paone’s path to the halls of power is similar to the path taken by many before him. He started as a staff member on Capitol Hill. He rose through the ranks of staff members to the top, and then he followed on to K Street, the corridor of lobbyist power.
He then joined the firm Prime Policy Group. The best Washington firms have names that never give away their true purposes. Prime is a firm that isn’t Republican or Democrat, it isn’t left or right. Prime is a firm that’s focused on fleecing America and lining the pockets of D.C. insiders (and their clients).
This is how Prime describes itself: “The depth of our experience and the quality of our work is unparalleled in Washington. Our policy expertise covers every sector, committee jurisdiction, and Federal department of government. Whatever your challenge, we can design and execute the winning strategy that resolves it.”
Prime goes on to brag about its insider connections, claiming to be… “40 government relations experts representing: both sides of the aisle, both chambers of Congress, four of the last administrations, swing coalitions such as Blue Dog Democrats and moderate Republicans, both major political parties, top-trade associations, think tanks, and interest groups.”
Paone himself has represented a “Who’s Who” of the rich and powerful. His clients have included Google (GOOGL), IBM (IBM), the National Restaurant Association, New York Life Insurance, and Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN). Paone took a role in pushing for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. He’s lobbied for oil interests, including the controversial Situ Oil Sands Alliance.
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Prime Policy Group has made some of its best money representing foreign businesses and governments. The firm was actually founded by Charlie Black and Bill Timmons, two of the best-known names in the business over the last four decades. Timmons was a Nixon-Ford insider, and Black earned his reputation as a political strategist for Ronald Reagan.
So it seems that both Prime and Paone have quite a bit of rank, thanks to all of their name dropping.
It’s All About the Money
Don’t let the GOP credentials fool you, these firms are all about making money. Prime shares some of its successes on the web, claiming to have been instrumental in “securing federal support for an urban mass transit project, ensuring [that] a balanced approach was achieved in a landmark telecommunications bill, assisting with the complicated procurement process for U.S. contractors, and helping a foreign government manage its transition to a multi-party democracy.”
Well, now they can add running the Obama legislative strategy to their website.
Expect Keystone XL to get fast-tracked. Also, expect the last two years of the Obama term to be as profitable to insiders as the last two of the Bush administration (when we bailed out Wall Street and automakers)… spending billions in the blink of an eye.
Your eyes on the Hill,