Revolving-Door Sprint

December 10, 1993

Asked about the resignation of two top White House staff members to become Washington lobbyists, press secretary Dee Dee Myers said, "You can't expect that people will never have another job."

Well, no. No one expects that. But Howard Paster and Roy Neel have just set an all-time record for the two-man revolving-door sprint. Mr. Paster was head of the White House legislative affairs office for only 10 months, and Mr. Neel was deputy chief of staff for only six months. The former is going to become the million-dollar-a-year president of a public relations and lobbying firm with many special interest clients. The latter is going to become the $500,000-a-year president of the lobbying arm of the regional telephone companies.

This is a disgrace. Bill Clinton was elected president in part by running against what Mr. Paster and Mr. Neel symbolize. Though both say they will not personally lobby White House officials, which is and has long been banned by executive order, both have also said that they will oversee and direct lobbying activities by others working for them. They pretend to think there is a difference. Nothing better explains the mood of distrust and disgust of the country with the mores of the crowd inside that famous beltway around Washington.

President Clinton defended Mr. Paster and Mr. Neel after they resigned by saying. "I don't think we should discourage people from moving in and out of government. I don't think we ought to have a permanent government class and a permanent private sector." That is a slick answer. As if that were the issue.

The issue is the "betrayal of democracy." That is the way Bill Clinton and Al Gore put it in their 1992 book, "Putting People First":

"The last twelve years were nothing less than an extended hunting season for high priced lobbyists and Washington influence peddlers. . . . High level executive branch employees traded in their government jobs for the chance to make millions lobbying their former bosses. . . . This betrayal of democracy must stop. . . . We must stop the revolving door. . . ."

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