Newly installed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner issued new rules Tuesday restricting contacts with lobbyists – and then hired one to be his top aide.
Mark Patterson, a former advocate for Goldman Sachs, will serve as chief of staff to Geithner as the Treasury Department revamps the Wall Street bailout program that sent an infusion of cash to his former employer.
Patterson’s appointment marks the second time in President Barack Obama’s first week in office that the administration has had to explain how it’s complying with its own ethics rules as it hires a bevy of Washington insiders for administration jobs.
Last week, the White House announced the president had waived the ethics rules to clear the way for the nomination of William Lynn, a former Raytheon lobbyist, to be deputy defense secretary.
“This is exactly the kind of thing that makes the American public suspicious of politicians. You say one thing and do another,” said Melanie Sloan, founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Still, Sloan and financial service lobbyists question how Treasury will make those determinations. “Goldman so permeates the markets, how can you separate them out?” Sloan asked.
Patterson was a registered lobbyist for Goldman Sachs from 2005 until April of 2008. Lobbying disclosure forms suggest he represented the financial giant on a wide array of issues, including visas, tax credits for cellulosic ethanol and an Indian gaming facility in New York state.