The notice in Politico’s “Playbook” a couple weeks ago didn’t draw much attention. “TRANSITIONS — MARK PATTERSON is returning to Capitol Hill to work as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s general counsel overseeing investigations and approps. The former Daschle policy director was at Perkins Coie. He is replacing Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, who the Senate confirmed to the Federal Trade Commission.”
The blurb conveniently left out Patterson’s résumé in between working for then–Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and white-shoe law firm Perkins Coie. From 2005 to 2008 Patterson was a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, which at the time was shaking the very foundations of the global economy. In 2007, Patterson worked to block the Democratic Congress from advancing “say on pay” rules, which would enable shareholders to have a voice in approving or disapproving executive-compensation decisions. It was a half-measure, but one Goldman Sachs vigorously opposed. Patterson also lobbied for Goldman on credit-default swaps, one of the financial innovations that contributed to the financial meltdown. Goldman eventually got paid out on its credit-default swaps with failed insurance-giant AIG at 100 percent; while at the New York Federal Reserve, Timothy Geithner brokered the bailout.
After that, Patterson got hired by Geithner as his chief of staff, serving in that position throughout Geithner’s tenure. An Obama-administration order restricted lobbyists from getting jobs within the government, but Patterson was waved in with some recusals to avoid working on matters on which he had directly lobbied. This prompted early criticism of Obama’s team for saying one thing and doing another on the revolving door between industry and government. This led to a classic moment at a House hearing between Geithner and Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), who was critical of the AIG bailout and Goldman Sachs’s counter-party payoff.
“Who is your chief of staff?” [Kaptur] demanded.
“Mark Patterson,” Mr. Geithner responded.
“Who did he work for before?” she asked.
“The president’s transition team,” said Mr. Geithner, eliciting laughter because virtually everyone in the room seemed to know that Mr. Patterson’s primary employer before he joined the government was Goldman Sachs.