Editorial – November 29, 2020
By: Nathaniel E. Ballantyne, Editor
Washington is known for the vicious cycle of revolving doors where influential people move from government jobs to private businesses and vice-versa while using their influence and power to protect the interests of the few at the expense of the many. Both parties are guilty of creating and maintaining the political swamp that allows consultants and lobbyists to use their access to protect their clients’ interests. Access that most Americans and particularly small businesses do not have.
As Biden puts together his administration, he is nominating people with troubling ties to big business. This represents a serious dilemma for a president who says he values transparency and honesty.
WestExec Advisors includes a map depicting West Executive Avenue as “the secure road on the White House grounds between the West Wing and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building” as a way to show what the consulting firm can do for its clients. “It is, quite literally, the road to the Situation Room, and it is the road everyone associated with WestExec Advisors has crossed many times en route to meetings of the highest national security consequences,” the firm says.
WestExe, according to Politico, “looks like a government-in-waiting for the next administration.” The Consulting firm was founded in 2017 by Tony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of State, and Michèle Flournoy, a top contender for secretary of Defense. And one of its former principals, Avril Haines, is Biden’s pick for national intelligence director. But little is known about WestExec’s client list. Because its staffers are not lobbyists, they are not required to disclose who has retained their services. They also are not bound by the Biden transition’s restrictions on hiring people who have lobbied in the past year.
WestExec is a high-powered Washington consulting firm with hundreds of clients who presumably have ongoing business with the government. With WestExec’s former CEO as the Secretary of State and cofounder as a top contender for Secretary of Defense, it is conceivable that WestExec’s clients would undoubtedly receive preferential treatment. Especially when the law does not require BLINKEN AND FLOURNOY to disclose client lists because they are not lobbyists, in this circumstance, I am not sure what is the difference is between a consultant and a lobbyist.
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