Magazine article Insight on the News

Only Change in Lobbying Is the Faces

Magazine article Insight on the News

Only Change in Lobbying Is the Faces

Article excerpt

You don't have to be from Arkansas to be a health care lobbyist these days, but it sure helps.

Candidate Bill Clinton told the Democratic National Convention that President Bush "won't break the stranglehold the special interest have on our elections and the lobbyists have on our government. But I will." He must have meant only lobbyists and special interests that he didn't know.

Take Betsey Wright, for instance. The president's self-appointed defender against bimbodom and former gubernatorial chief of staff came to Washington with the Clintons but not to work in the administration. Instead, she took a job as the executive vice president for one of Washington's most powerful lobbying firms, the Wexler Group, headed by superlobbyist and Clinton confidante Anne Wexler. Meanwhile, Wexler's husband, Joseph Duffey, was appointed by Clinton to head the U.S. Information Agency.

Clients of the Wexler Group include the American Dietetic Association, the Catholic Health Association of the United States, the Family Health Plan, Johnson & Johnson, Ross Laboratories, metpath, the AIDS Action Council and the Science Application International Corp., among others.

Wright has said she didn't want to work in the Clinton White House after serving as a deputy chairman of the clinton campaign and overseeing damage control on "bimbo eruptions." However, she still enjoys access to the Clinton inner circle. According to one political insider in Arkansas, if Wright calls, Clinton will pick up the phone.

"I just can't help myself when it comes to protecting Clinton from lies"' Wright recently told the Washington Post. When two Arkansas state troopers went public with their charges of Clinton sexual escapades, Wright traveled to Little Rock to try to persuade Trooper Danny Ferguson to keep quiet. Although she admitted to conferring with White House staff members about her efforts, after her successful trip she said, "It's wonderful being a free agent."

Wright's activities have begun to raise some ethical questions in Washington. It's the old |who you know' game " said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. "They're just hiring the Rololodex. Unfortunately, this is standard fare in this town."

Another old friend from Arkansas, former Rep. …

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