Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Vilsack for...Lobbyist

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 706

I’ll admit that this story caught me off guard: Tom Vilsack, who just left the Iowa governor’s mansion last month and is, of course, running for president, has signed a two-year contract with the corporate parent of Iowa’s largest utility, MidAmerican Energy, as a “consultant on renewable energy and the environment.”

According to reports, Vilsack’s new consulting gig will involve working 40 hours per quarter, and he’ll be paid hourly by the friendly folks at MidAmerican Holdings Co., MidAmerican Energy’s parent company. How much money will that amount to? When asked, Vilsack could not recall.


“Essentially, I am going to do research and provide input to policymakers in the holding company on issues involving renewable energy,” Vilsack said. He went on to add, “I'm already doing a lot of this work as part of the campaign.”

Well, that makes sense: if you’re campaigning for President of the United States, you might as well leverage that to make some money in the private sector! Turn your hobby into real cash!

Seeking to allay the concerns he obviously knows this will raise, Vilsack is quoted as saying, “I am expressly not a lobbyist.” Chisel that one next to Al Gore’s “No controlling legal authority” in the Pantheon of Tone-Deaf Political Rationalizations.

This is all stupendously misguided. Tom Vilsack should immediately renounce this indefensible deal with MidAmerican, acknowledge the obvious conflict of interest involved, and apologize for making such an egregious error in judgment. If MidAmerican, or any other corporation, wants to know what Tom Vilsack thinks about renewable energy and the environment, they should do what the average citizen is obliged to do: attend a speech, visit the campaign website, research his record as governor. Instead, they sign up the man who would be our next president to a consulting contract that – Hey! What do you know? – would expire right around the time the next president will be taking the oath of office.

Does anyone else see the Dick Cheney parallel here?

Will every caucus-goer with MidAmerican’s level of insider access to Tom Vilsack please raise your hand?

Can anyone take Vilsack’s talk of being a political outsider untainted by the ways of Washington seriously in light of this?

This is sickening, it is embarrassing, and, if not repudiated directly, immediately and personally by Vilsack himself, is enough in itself to exclude Tom Vilsack from any consideration as a candidate for president.


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