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Congress / TECHNOLOGY

Obama Mixes With Lobbyists

President Obama: The list is long.(Pool/Getty Images)

July 18, 2011

President Barack Obama is no fan of lobbyists, priding himself on running an administration he says is unswayed by undue influence.

But he seems to have swallowed his distaste long enough to entertain one of Microsoft's top lobbyists Monday at the White House, where the tech giant announced a $15 million investment in immersive learning technologies like game-based instruction.

Microsoft SVP Fred Humphries sat in for CEO Steve Ballmer, who couldn't make the education roundtable that featured other high-powered current and former executives like United Way's Brian Gallagher and former Intel chief Craig Barrett, who were both registered to lobby until several years ago.

"At least Humphries is registered, unlike so many of his counterparts who lobby under the radar," complained one GOP tech lobbyist.

Humphries lobbies on copyright, immigration reform, broadband, taxes, free trade and, appropriately for today's White House meeting, "promoting excellence in technology, education, standards, and science," according to the company's latest lobbying disclosure.

"Microsoft is making a significant investment in education today announcing a new $15 million investment in research and development," said White House spokesman Eric Shultz. "They are committing over the next three years to train 150,000 educators and leaders and provide access to professional learning communities."

Still, the meeting left some on K Street grumbling about what they see as the president's double standard, regularly knocking lobbyists until they can help his administration.

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