Czar Says Obama Has No Plans To Restrict TARP Lobbyists

Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Judicial Watch

The czar of Obama’s massive bank bailout says the president’s promise to restrict lobbyists from influencing how the government allocates the program’s $700 billion was a political stunt and no rules have been implemented.

Furthermore, the administration claims to fear that issuing rules against lobbyist communications could violate the First Amendment’s guarantee to free speech. So, Obama breaks yet another transparency and accountability pledge in failing to curb lobbyists’ access to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Amid bipartisan concerns that lobbyists would sway how tax dollars got disbursed to failing banks, the president vowed to limit political influence and disclose where the money was going. More than half a year later neither has happened and this week a news report sheds light on why.

Obama’s one-time TARP czar, Neel Kashkari, actually told a special TARP inspector general that the commander-in-chief’s promise to restrict lobbyist access to the bailout was made purely for political reasons and $200 billion later no rules have been issued. The program has functioned under a cloak of secrecy and some lawmakers are accusing the administration of misleading the American people.

Demanding full transparency, the senior Republican on the main investigative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives (California’s Darrell Issa) says the Treasury Department has actively obstructed the committee’s ability to determine what TARP recipients are doing with taxpayer dollars. He calls Obama’s talk of curbing lobbyist influence nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Judicial Watch has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Treasury Department to obtain records related to the government’s evaluation procedures to determine which financial institutions got TARP funds. Of particular interest is a $12 million TARP infusion to a Boston bank that didn’t qualify for a bailout but received one after a congressman intervened.

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