Breaking news: The Fishwrap of Record has finally discovered that the Obama administration gives its Chicago corporate pals special access to power and regulatory favoritism. On Thursday, The Not-So-New York Times published an A1 story titled "Ties to Obama Aided in Access for Big Utility."
Everyone, put on your shocked faces!
"With energy an increasingly pivotal issue for the Obama White House," the Times intoned, "a review of Exelon's relationship with the administration shows how familiarity has helped foster access at the upper reaches of government and how, in some cases, the outcome has been favorable for Exelon."
You mean Hope and Change was all smoke and mirrors? Well, knock me over with a feather and call me Grandpa Daley!
White House press flack Jay Carney played dumb when asked about the report, which detailed "an unusually large number of meetings with top administration officials at key moments in the consideration of environmental regulations that have been drafted in a way that hurt Exelon's competitors."
"I'm not sure what the issue is, frankly," Carney told the Beltway press corps. Carney, a former Time magazine journalist who pointedly reminded his former media colleagues that he "was a reporter," apparently forgot all the connect-the-dots training he got at his once-hallowed publication.
The issue, dear Carney, is favor-trading and access-peddling. Government for the cronies, by the cronies and of the cronies. The Times spelled it out: "I would like to get some treatment in Washington like that," Ken Anderson, general manager at Tri-State G and T, a Colorado-based power supplier that has been at odds with Exelon over environmental regulations, told the paper. "But Exelon seems to get deference that I can't get."
As I noted back in January in my column on Obama's green robber barons, my scouring of White House visitor logs showed nine visits from Illinois-based Exelon's CEO John Rowe, who met with the president and former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel multiple times. The clean energy company's deep ties had already been illuminated by several other business publications, including Forbes and Crain's.
Frank M. Clark, the veteran lobbyist who runs Exelon's Commonwealth Edison, the largest electric utility in Illinois, is a top Obama adviser and fundraiser dating back to the former community organizer's Illinois State Senate days. Longtime Obama campaign guru David Axelrod worked as a consultant to Exelon. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped create Exelon -- where he raked in more than $16 million over two years.
Carney's boss once made it a central hobbyhorse of his presidential campaign. When he announced his presidential intentions in 2007, candidate Obama decried "the cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play." He indignantly singled out "the best bundlers" who get the "greatest access" to power. ComEd's Clark bundled at least $200,000 for Obama in 2008 and at least $100,000 for the 2012 cycle, and forked over nearly $30,000 more to committees supporting Obama. Earlier this year, Obama acknowledged raising at least $74 million through his team of big-time bundlers who have been showered with access, tax dollars and plum patronage positions.
It's taken four years for the media lapdoggies to call out the Naked Emperor of Chicago-on-the-Potomac. Better late than never, ya think? I hear the crackerjack reporters at ye Olde York Times may be planning a special in-depth investigative series on the president's dirty D.C. business-as-usual administration slated to run sometime after Election Day. They could call it "Culture of Corruption: Obama's Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies." Oh, wait...