Former Obama campaign manager/senior adviser David Plouffe fined $90K over ethics violation

Poor David Plouffe!  His secret lobbying of his old Obama White House colleague, current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, was never supposed to become public.  If only two pesky open records lawsuits hadn't forced the mayor to disclose hundreds of private emails in which he conducted city business in secret.  Darn those sunshine laws!

Bill Ruthhart and Hal Dardic of the Chicago Tribune report:

A former Uber senior executive who once served as Barack Obama's campaign manager has been fined $90,000 by the Chicago Board of Ethics for illegally lobbying Mayor Rahm Emanuel on behalf of the ride-sharing company.

The board voted 5-0 to find that David Plouffe violated city ethics rules by failing to register as a lobbyist after contacting Emanuel to help the company on regulations for picking up travelers at Chicago's two airports.

Boy-faced Plouffe during the 2008 campaign.

 

When an email from November 20, 2015 was coughed up by Rahm into the public domain, it became clear that Plouffe was operating as a lobbyist without the legally required registration and disclosure:

"Assume both of us thought the airport issue was settled and we would never have to discuss again, but unfortunately two significant new hurdles were introduced," wrote Plouffe, the political strategist who managed Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and in 2015 was Uber's senior vice president of policy and strategy. "Coming to you because of their severity that would prevent us from operating. We were all set to announce Monday we were beginning pickups."

"Sure this comes as much of a surprise to you as us, since there was an agreement in place," Plouffe wrote. "I hope we can resolve these issues before the holiday. Our team is eager to move forward and begin operating at the airports in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday — as you called for and we'd like to deliver on the schedule for you."

Emanuel, who was traveling at the time, quickly responded.

"Please speak to Negron and David on my staff. Impossible for me to address from China," wrote Emanuel, referring to Michael Negron, the mayor's chief of policy, and David Spielfogel, then his senior adviser.

Plouffe's communication with Emanuel came as City Hall had weighed how to regulate the emerging ride-share industry, eventually settling on rules that are less stringent than those placed on the city's taxi companies. The mayor's brother, Hollywood talent agency CEO Ari Emanuel, is an investor in Uber.

All in the family, so to speak, and no reason to let the public in on the cozy relationship.  Well, except for the law...

That pesky law that forces these issues into the public sphere, at least under lawsuit, if not daily practice.  That makes what happened next questionable:

Last June, aldermen attempted to pass stronger regulations on ride-sharing companies to even the playing field for the taxi industry, only to have them watered down. When aldermen pushing for the stronger rules, which included fingerprinting drivers, tried to use a parliamentary maneuver to delay the action, Emanuel threatened to adjourn the City Council meeting. In the end, the watered-down version Emanuel preferred remained intact.

So Rahm played hardball to protect his brother's investment and his White House colleague's client.  It pays to have friends and relatives, especially in Chicago. 

But because of those pesky public disclosure laws:

In its final determination to issue its reprimands, the Board of Ethics stated that both Uber and Plouffe "do not dispute the allegations" of violating the city's lobbying ordinance or contest the possibility of a fine. Uber and Plouffe argued he should only be subject to a $1,000 fine, according to the ethics board.

The city's ordinance, however, calls for a $1,000 fine for each lobbying violation and that "each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense to which a separate fine shall apply." The board handed down a $90,000 fine because Plouffe did not register until April 13, 2016, long after the five business day requirement for registration after he first lobbied Emanuel. The fine reflects the 90 business days he was not registered after first contacting the mayor.

Don't worry about Plouffe (rhymes with "fluff").  He has already landed a new gig.  Check out Mark Zuckerberg's own Facebook post:

Priscilla and I are excited to announce that David Plouffe is joining the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to lead our policy and advocacy effort and Ken Mehlman will lead our policy advisory board.

Our approach at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is to bring engineering to social change. We build tools to bring personalized learning into more schools and help scientists cure all diseases in our children[.]

 

"Bring engineering to social change" has an ominous ring to it, doesn't it?  As is, for instance, censoring the viral spread on Facebook of news that is not congenial to the mentality of Plouffe, Emanuel, Zuckerberg, and company.

Poor David Plouffe!  His secret lobbying of his old Obama White House colleague, current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, was never supposed to become public.  If only two pesky open records lawsuits hadn't forced the mayor to disclose hundreds of private emails in which he conducted city business in secret.  Darn those sunshine laws!

Bill Ruthhart and Hal Dardic of the Chicago Tribune report:

A former Uber senior executive who once served as Barack Obama's campaign manager has been fined $90,000 by the Chicago Board of Ethics for illegally lobbying Mayor Rahm Emanuel on behalf of the ride-sharing company.

The board voted 5-0 to find that David Plouffe violated city ethics rules by failing to register as a lobbyist after contacting Emanuel to help the company on regulations for picking up travelers at Chicago's two airports.

Boy-faced Plouffe during the 2008 campaign.

 

When an email from November 20, 2015 was coughed up by Rahm into the public domain, it became clear that Plouffe was operating as a lobbyist without the legally required registration and disclosure:

"Assume both of us thought the airport issue was settled and we would never have to discuss again, but unfortunately two significant new hurdles were introduced," wrote Plouffe, the political strategist who managed Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and in 2015 was Uber's senior vice president of policy and strategy. "Coming to you because of their severity that would prevent us from operating. We were all set to announce Monday we were beginning pickups."

"Sure this comes as much of a surprise to you as us, since there was an agreement in place," Plouffe wrote. "I hope we can resolve these issues before the holiday. Our team is eager to move forward and begin operating at the airports in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday — as you called for and we'd like to deliver on the schedule for you."

Emanuel, who was traveling at the time, quickly responded.

"Please speak to Negron and David on my staff. Impossible for me to address from China," wrote Emanuel, referring to Michael Negron, the mayor's chief of policy, and David Spielfogel, then his senior adviser.

Plouffe's communication with Emanuel came as City Hall had weighed how to regulate the emerging ride-share industry, eventually settling on rules that are less stringent than those placed on the city's taxi companies. The mayor's brother, Hollywood talent agency CEO Ari Emanuel, is an investor in Uber.

All in the family, so to speak, and no reason to let the public in on the cozy relationship.  Well, except for the law...

That pesky law that forces these issues into the public sphere, at least under lawsuit, if not daily practice.  That makes what happened next questionable:

Last June, aldermen attempted to pass stronger regulations on ride-sharing companies to even the playing field for the taxi industry, only to have them watered down. When aldermen pushing for the stronger rules, which included fingerprinting drivers, tried to use a parliamentary maneuver to delay the action, Emanuel threatened to adjourn the City Council meeting. In the end, the watered-down version Emanuel preferred remained intact.

So Rahm played hardball to protect his brother's investment and his White House colleague's client.  It pays to have friends and relatives, especially in Chicago. 

But because of those pesky public disclosure laws:

In its final determination to issue its reprimands, the Board of Ethics stated that both Uber and Plouffe "do not dispute the allegations" of violating the city's lobbying ordinance or contest the possibility of a fine. Uber and Plouffe argued he should only be subject to a $1,000 fine, according to the ethics board.

The city's ordinance, however, calls for a $1,000 fine for each lobbying violation and that "each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense to which a separate fine shall apply." The board handed down a $90,000 fine because Plouffe did not register until April 13, 2016, long after the five business day requirement for registration after he first lobbied Emanuel. The fine reflects the 90 business days he was not registered after first contacting the mayor.

Don't worry about Plouffe (rhymes with "fluff").  He has already landed a new gig.  Check out Mark Zuckerberg's own Facebook post:

Priscilla and I are excited to announce that David Plouffe is joining the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to lead our policy and advocacy effort and Ken Mehlman will lead our policy advisory board.

Our approach at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is to bring engineering to social change. We build tools to bring personalized learning into more schools and help scientists cure all diseases in our children[.]

 

"Bring engineering to social change" has an ominous ring to it, doesn't it?  As is, for instance, censoring the viral spread on Facebook of news that is not congenial to the mentality of Plouffe, Emanuel, Zuckerberg, and company.

RECENT VIDEOS