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"Transparent" White House holding off-the-record lobbyist meetings

Flickr photo by Matthew and Tracie

So the Obama administration is supposed to be all about transparency, particularly when it comes to lobbyists, right? Now it looks like even the do-gooders have made some missteps.

Politico’s Chris Frates broke the story this morning that the White House is continuing to meet with lobbyists, just not always inside the famous Pennsylvania Avenue mansion. Instead, they’re going up the street to townhouses off White House property — out of the public eye and off the public record.

The White House alleges that the Jackson Place additional meeting space is used when the White House is filled or when there’s no time to clear participants through the security screening. But some of the lobbyists involved think otherwise.

“Without question, I think that there’s a lot of concern about being seen meeting with the same lobbyists or particular lobbyists over and over again,” said one business lobbyist, who has been to Jackson Place meetings.

On the Obama administration’s lobbyist double standard, another lobbyist interviewed said, “When they need us, they call us. When they don’t, we’re evil.”

What do you think? Are the “off-campus” meetings with lobbyists justified? Or should lobbyists meeting with the administration be forced to sign in on the White House visitors’ log?