Monsanto Exec Heads FDA, and the Obama Administration’s Revolving Door Politics

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What it would probably look like if all the former Monsanto employees now employed by government regulation agencies had a fully-grown child.

Despite their animus history, Barack Obama seems to be warming to the K Street corporate lobbyists he once adamantly denounced.

In 2009, in a classic revolving-door move, President Barack Obama appointed former Monsanto VP and head lobbyist Michael Taylor as Deputy Commissioner for the FDA — the board tasked with regulating Taylor’s own industry.

Taylor joins the growing list of public officials formerly employed by Monsanto, a worldwide food giant oft-criticized for its poor environmental record and repeated aggressive legal action against small farmers over copyright issues.

“I don’t take a dime of their [lobbyist] money, and when I am president, they won’t find a job in my White House,” Obama said in a 2008 campaign speech. A little research, however, shows that claim to be a questionable one.

While the FDA’s headquarters are technically located in Maryland and not the White House, this appointment took place just seven months into the Obama presidency, with few noticing until this online petition gained popularity this weekend.

Also worth noting: how many dimes Obama has already accepted from Washington lobbyists for his 2012 campaign — more than 14,000 dimes, to be exact.

According to donor-trail website OpenSecrets.org, international lobbying firms DLA Piper (former employer of Republican Congressman Dick Armey) and Skadden, Arps et al (whose alumni include many lobbyists who went on to hold state and federal government office) have contributed a combined $144,749 to the Obama campaign thus far. And that’s not including Microsoft and Comcast — Obama’s top two donors according to this list.

This enlightening piece from The Moderate Voice lists numerous examples of the Obama administration spinning the same revolving door it once promised to close.

But what may be a more startling discovery is the administration’s pally relationship with the investment banks whose risky actions were partially responsible for the nation’s devastating economic recession.

“We’ve all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them,” Obama said in his 2012 State of the Union address last week.  “That’s why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior.”

But judging by the administration’s inaction thus far, Americans may have little reason to believe that such irresponsible behavior will be punished — even by existing regulations.

“It’s startling the number of high-ranking Obama officials who have spun through the revolving door between the White House and the sacred halls of investment banking,” says The Moderate Voice.

New York-based investment firm Goldman Sachs ranks number 14 on Obama’s campaign donor list, with a contribution of over $50,000. The same firm recorded multi-billion dollar profits during the 2007-2008 subprime mortgage crisis by “betting on a collapse in the sub-prime market and short-selling mortgage-related securities.” Along with several other banks, Goldman Sachs is also accused of using funds from the 2008 TARP bailout to pad the pensions of its wealthiest executives amid promises of “trickle-down economics” that would benefit the nation as a whole.

While most Americans admit the existence of corruption in their government, details of how deep the corruption runs, and who is involved, continue to surface. It may benefit us all to simply keep our eyes open.

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