Report: Obama Allies Planning Progressive-Friendly Business Group

March 23, 2009 10:38 a.m.
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Here’s an interesting counterpoint to Brian’s report on an emerging split in the progressive community over targeting business-friendly centrist Democrats. A group of high-powered Democratic consultants is recruiting corporate members for a new Obama-friendly trade group, to be christened Business Forward. As Roll Call reports (sub. req’d.):

The organization is being billed as the progressives’ answer to the National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Expected to publicly launch as early as this week, Business Forward’s main goal is to gin up support among companies and their CEOs to push White House initiatives, according to lobbyists who have been approached about asking clients to join the organization.

The players behind Business Forward are well-connected to the Obama administration.Jim Doyle, reported by Roll Call as the group’s first executive director, is the husband of Patti Solis Doyle, the erstwhile Hillary Clinton campaign manager who later staffed Vice President-elect Biden. Two board members of the group will be Erik Smith, a former paid media consultant to the president, and David Sutphen, a former Viacom lobbyist whose sister Mona is Obama’s deputy chief of staff.

But can the administration dispatch its allies to enlist support from the business lobby while maintaining a public stance that’s strongly anti-K-Street? Roll Call quotes a sympathetic lobbyist who anonymously pans the idea:

Some Democratic lobbyists say they are skeptical of Business Forward given the Obama administration’s anti-lobbyist rhetoric.

“I find the idea a tad bit ironic given the administration has gone out of their way to trash lobbyists and lobbying,” one Democratic lobbyist said.

One wonders how major progressive groups such as the Center for American Progress and will treat this new presence on the scene.

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