This story is not getting nearly the attention it deserves, so I’m highlighting it here.  In January 2009, President Obama appointed National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Vice President for Research, Advocacy, and Legislation Cecilia Munoz to be his Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Since then, federal funds to NCLR have increased from $2.8 million in FY 2008 to $4.1 million in FY 2009 to more than $11 million in FY 2010. The highly-political NCLR affiliate Chicanos Por La Causa (Chicanos for the Cause, or CPLC) saw its funding increase from $11.8 million in FY 2007 and $13.2 million in FY 2008 to $24.4 million in FY 2009 and $18.3 million in FY 2010.  In 2008, CPLC sued the State of Arizona to overturn the Arizona Legal Workers Act, which was upheld in the Supreme Court earlier this year.

When Obama took office, he issued Executive Order 12490, which contained three provisions:

  1. Lobbyist Gift Ban. No government appointee is allowed to accept gifts from lobbyists or lobbying organizations under this new pledge.
  2. Revolving Door Ban — All Appointees Entering Government. This ban bars appointees from participating in any matter involving parties related to previous employers. The restriction was criticized as being too limiting, since it is necessary to appoint experts in their fields, and these experts would often have conflicts of interest under this condition.
  3. Revolving Door Ban — Lobbyists Entering Government. Under this restriction, lobbyists are forbidden from participating in any matter they lobbied on within 2 years before their appointment. They are also restricted from participating in specific issues which they lobbied on, and may not seek employment with any executive agency they lobbied within.

Obama granted Munoz a waiver from sections 2 and 3, allowing her to work on La Raza-related matters despite moving straight from being a La Raza lobbyist to working in the White House on matters concerning La Raza.  Some might deny that she actually influenced policy in these matters, but that begs the question as to why such waivers were granted.  Surely if she intended to recuse herself, these waivers would have been unnecessary.

These shady ethics indulgences make a mockery of Obama’s vaunted ethics overhaul, and deserves more attention than they have received from the mainstream press.

Such rent-seeking and self-dealing has become the left’s standard model.  Government entities, often staffed by members of leftist client groups, fund left-leaning organizations, who in turn provide money, directly or indirectly government-funded advocacy, and other aid for the election of more Democrat politicians, who then keep the cycle going. Union-owned politicians, some former union organizers, bargain with unions over contracts, then get a share of the unions’ cut for their campaign coffers.  GE, headed by top Obama adviser Jeff Immelt, until recently blasted green propaganda on its massive television empire and Democrat propaganda on MSNBC while receiving corporate welfare and tax breaks from these “green” programs they advocate.  Public broadcasting uses government funds to run left-wing media outlets, which in turn advocate for more funds for public broadcasting and help left-wing candidates.  Planned Parenthood gets government funds that free up other monies not only for abortion but to steer from donors towards political advocacy.

Now yes, there are cases in which folks on the right are guilty of similar transgressions, but for principled small government advocates, there is a much lower risk of such toxic relationships.  A smart, well-meaning, liberal political science professor whom I respect very much recently marveled to me at how stupid Republicans are  for seeking to balance budgets by cutting government, because it forecloses the possibility of using much government money to buy votes.  I responded that we don’t view it as stupid.  We view it as the right thing to do.  Principled Republicans are willing to take the hit rather than watch our government suffer the consequences of running out of other people’s money.  We have a harder road to travel without ill-gotten gains greasing the wheels, but we have no other option.