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Does Hilary Rosen's not-lobbying firm sell White House access to corporations?

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In the wake of L'Affaire Rosen (a Rorschach test for Dems, it seems), we saw a brief but powerful light shined on someone most of us have never heard of — Hilary Rosen.

So forget what Rosen said, and how many triangulated R-fearing Dems have rushed to throw her under the bus.

Who is Hilary Rosen? The fearless investigators at Republic Report have been following this part of the story (my emphasis everywhere):

[T]he entire story may set off a greater, more substantive inquiry about the nature of Rosen’s consulting firm, SKDKnickerbocker, an unregistered lobbying firm that has become one of the biggest names in the influence business by using its ties to President Obama and leaders in Congress.
By following Republican efforts to tie Rosen to the White House, Republic Report uncovered some interesting data. For example:
  • Hilary Rosen visited the White House 35 times.
  • David Petraeus visited 9 times.
  • Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited 12 times.
  • Joe Biden visited 6 times.
  • Tim Geithner visited 40 times.
Since the reference is to "Obama White House visitor logs" I would assume this is during the entire period when that name is accurate. Still, the ratios are telling. Rosen visits less than Tim Geithner (hey, bankers need friends in high places), but quite a bit more than the others on the list. (Of course, there's the phone, but face-time is face-time.)

Lee Fang, the Republic Report writer, also discovers this at Politico:
Per a senior Dem: “It’s an open secret in the Dem consultant community that SKD has been signing up clients based on ‘perceived White House access’ tied to prior relationships and employment.”
Mr. Fang then puts two and two together:
SKDKnickerbocker is led by a team of former Democratic operatives and key White House figures. But instead of promoting a progressive agenda, or even an Obama agenda, these consultants score huge contracts by helping corporate interests lobby for policies that are not in line with the public interest. Many SKDKnickerbocker employees, including Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director, are also frequent White House visitors.
He provides an interesting list of not-lobbying clients and their causes, many of which are indeed anti-progressive and, in fact, anti-stated-Obama-objectives. Among them is this:
A proposal leaked two months ago showed that a group of political consultants, including SKDKnickerbocker’s Anita Dunn, worked up an effort to find hedge funds to pay them to kill efforts to enact the “Buffett Rule.” In the memo, Dunn clearly advertised her ties to the White House.
Buffett Rule ... I remember that. Obama says he wants it.

Look, no one's alleging wrong-doing, quite. Obama and his people can listen to whomever they want on a policy he says he advocates — and which will never pass this Congress — in a election year where his "sell" is that he's the real populist.

If Obama wants to open the White House door to Hilary Rosen, that's his right.

And if Rosen wants to sell that open door, that's her right. Rather cozy, that, but not illegal. Not Blagojevich–illegal.

And given the lax laws governing lobbyists, SKD can sell Rosen the same way Howard Dean is sold — as a wise and friendly "strategic adviser." You know, like Grandpa, but with his hand out.

The business of doing anything for money is a fine little business indeed, a sure-fire money-maker. As Groucho once said, "Clip me off a piece of that."

UPDATE: Tweaked some phrasing for accuracy.


(To follow on Twitter or to send links: @Gaius_Publius)

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