Politics

WH visitor logs reveal steady stream of lobbyists

An analysis of the most recent visitor logs released by the White House shows frequent visits by lobbyists attending meetings and social events at the White House complex, The Washington Post reports.

The paper found that steady stream of lobbyists has been making its way to the White House, the Old Executive Office Building, the New Executive Office Building and vice president’s residence despite President Obama’s vow to diminish the influence of lobbyists.

The Post reported that, after analyzing visitor logs from as recent as January 17, lobbyists with personal ties to the administration are granted easier access. Visits by left-leaning lobbyists are frequent, while meetings with lobbyists from conservative causes are few and far between.

According to White House spokesman Eric Schultz, the Obama administration is the first to release visitor records. Records are published monthly, with a three-month delay.

Individual lobbyists’ names sometimes appear on records anywhere from 20 to 50 times, with visits including meetings, group tours, dinners or social events.

Tom Hannegan, an informal adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign, has been to the White House more than 30 times for varying events and meetings. In October, Hannegan met with the CEO and lobbyist from Kelly Services and aides in charge of Obama’s job council at the Old Executive Office Building.

The group discussed a tax credit Kelly Services was pushing that would push companies to hire unemployed veterans. Only a month and a half later, President Obama signed the tax credit into law, becoming known as the VOW to Hire Heroes Act.

Throughout his term, President Obama has pledged to check the influence of lobbyists. He banned lobbyists from joining his administration and its advisory boards, while limiting political interactions between federal employees and lobbying groups.

“The whole process was interesting to me. It was a little scary,” said Andrew Menter, the chief executive at Vivature Health. According to the Post, Menter met with a top health-policy official in December 2010.

“You need a lobbyist to get a meeting,” Menter said.

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