Victory! Roll Call reports that the nomination of Chamber of Commerce lapdog Mark Gitenstein to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy has been dropped — and suggests Public Citizen played a significant role in convincing the administration to drop the nomination.
Anna Palmer reports:
Gitenstein, a partner at Mayer Brown, was initially thought to be a shoo-in to head the Office of Legal Policy, but his lobbying background, particularly his work for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, helped scuttle his nomination.
The reform group Public Citizen launched a campaign in early February against Gitenstein’s nomination, sending a letter to Obama that cited the nominee’s work on legal reform issues as making him unsuitable for the job.
“This is someone who has lobbied on a set of legal issues that would be his domain at the office of legal policy, an important policy office,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch.
“It’s not just that he lobbied on those issues, but he would have to recuse himself from a lot of matters at minimum, which raises questions about whether he would be the right person for the job.”
In other words, Gitenstein would have been the wrong guy for the job – AND there are large chunks of his job that the new ethics rules wouldn’t have been allowed to perform, since he’d been getting paid lobbying on these issues.
In Public Citizen’s letter to President Obama, David Arkush wrote,
Gitenstein’s lobbying activities cut directly against your stated values. You have called for a legal system that shows compassion for those with relatively little power, but Gitenstein has lobbied to strengthen the legal rights of the powerful at the expense of the powerless. You have called for greater accountability in the financial services industry, but Gitenstein has fought accountability for financial institutions.
So another Obama administration nominee with unseemly ties to Washington’s lobbying industry has bitten the dust. Now it’s time to get someone in the Office of Legal Policy who will stand up for consumers’ rights, not work to undermine them.