Obama’s lobbyist problem: David Axelrod

posted at 11:04 am on May 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

The strange contest over lobbying takes a swing to the Left today, as Newsweek details the biggest lobbying connection in the campaign. After spending most of the month trying to paint John McCain as having a lobbyist problem, Barack Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod may have been hoist by his own petard. His consulting firm turns out to do lobbying as well, and in some shady ways:

When Illinois utility Commonwealth Edison wanted state lawmakers to back a hefty rate hike two years ago, it took a creative lobbying approach, concocting a new outfit that seemed devoted to the public interest: Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity, or CORE. CORE ran TV ads warning of a “California-style energy crisis” if the rate increase wasn’t approved—but without disclosing the commercials were funded by Commonwealth Edison. The ad campaign provoked a brief uproar when its ties to the utility, which is owned by Exelon Corp., became known. “It’s corporate money trying to hoodwink the public,” the state’s Democratic Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said. What got scant notice then—but may soon get more scrutiny—is that CORE was the brainchild of ASK Public Strategies, a consulting firm whose senior partner is David Axelrod, now chief strategist for Barack Obama.

If that seems a little dishonest, then check out what ASK proposed on behalf of Illinois hospitals:

But the activities of ASK (located in the same office as Axelrod’s political firm) illustrate the difficulties in defining exactly who a lobbyist is. In 2004, Cablevision hired ASK to set up a group similar to CORE to block a new stadium for the New York Jets in Manhattan. Unlike Illinois, New York disclosure laws do cover such work, and ASK’s $1.1 million fee was listed as the “largest lobbying contract” of the year in the annual report of the state’s lobbying commission. ASK last year proposed a similar “political campaign style approach” to help Illinois hospitals block a state proposal that would have forced them to provide more medical care to the indigent. One part of its plan: create a “grassroots” group of medical experts “capable of contacting policymakers to advocate for our position,” according to a copy of the proposal. (ASK didn’t get the contract.)

Obama has run on health-care issues to create universal health-insurance coverage to do exactly the opposite of what ASK proposed. Axelrod’s firm wanted to set up another phony front group to oppose that same policy, attempting to fake the public into thinking that the “grassroots” effort had nothing to do with the hospitals themselves. Axelrod’s firm had so much success with their front group for the energy company that they planned to duplicate the same dishonest structure in health care — and in both cases, on behalf of opponents of Obama’s professed policies today.

Axelrod says he isn’t a lobbyist because he doesn’t do business in DC, but Exelon certainly does, as Newsweek points out. Exelon execs have pumped almost a quarter-million dollars into Obama’s campaign, too. The state of New York considers ASK a lobbying firm, too. More importantly, the business ethics of his firm call into serious question Obama’s pledge of “New Politics”. Is he serious, or is this merely another Axelrod public-relations Trojan Horse?

I wrote earlier that all of the brouhaha over lobbyists is overblown and ridiculous. Lobbyists exist to represent citizens before Congress, an exercise explicitly protected by the First Amendment. However, Obama’s campaign decided to make this an overarching theme, and now they can live with the consequences. Will Obama fire Axelrod, or will he admit that he has been a hypocrite for questioning McCain for his connection to lobbyists — lobbyists who didn’t resort to creating fraudulent front groups for their clients?


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Yearning for an Obama victory, the pigs are lining up for a Hope and Change feeding at the public trough.

indythinker on May 25, 2008 at 11:19 AM

The reason that lobbyists are often the sharpest people in the room is that lobbying is a private competitive occupation where people with brains and energy get ahead, and dumb lazy people go broke. No wonder the lobbyists often understand the issues better than the politicians they work for. It’s another example that market competition works.

RBMN on May 25, 2008 at 11:20 AM

How dare you be a racist for questioning BO chief advisor ties to Lobbyist. One are one racist person.

Serouisly now, who will report this. Media reporters who are males are all in love with this guy. CNN won’t report it, because Chris has a love affair with BO. MSNBC won’t because well it is in the tank for BO. BO will get away with this. Heck Democrats get away with double standard every day.

BroncosRock on May 25, 2008 at 11:25 AM

Sorry my post should read You are one racist person.

BroncosRock on May 25, 2008 at 11:27 AM

Bring on the exposure. Barry can only go one direction – down – and the more folks know, the less they like.

T J Green on May 25, 2008 at 11:28 AM

Exelon looking for rate hikes? Well, I’m shocked.

Exelon operates one of our local power plants unit 1 of TMI.

forest on May 25, 2008 at 11:38 AM

Newsweek had to do something to redress the balance somewhat; especially after that disgraceful fawning piece they did on Obama a couple of weeks ago.
As far as Newsweek is concerned, they’ve done their duty now. That’s all, folks. No more negative pieces against the Obama campaign between now and November 4th.

infidel65 on May 25, 2008 at 11:43 AM

I’m hoping this is the year that teh internets finally becomes a rival to the MSM. If that’s the case, Obama is toast. Once the monopoly on information dissemination is broken, the left wing loses its automatic 10-15 point electoral advantage. The story reported by Ed is the kind that will determine whether or not we are at that point.

Buford Gooch on May 25, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Uh oh… more of these disclosures and Hillary is going to get some more superdelegates…..

Obama we hardly knew ye…. and now that we know more, we don’t like ye.

originalpechanga on May 25, 2008 at 11:44 AM

I bet the majority of the people in this country never hear about this.

I don’t think lobbyists are bad people or anything.In fact I think they are inevitable, but then again I am not running a campaign of hope and change.

Obama, just another politician.

Terrye on May 25, 2008 at 11:46 AM

Time for another hit of Barry-Whine!

Bicyea on May 25, 2008 at 11:48 AM

He can’t be a hypocrite — he’s so cool and hip!

D2Boston on May 25, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Does anyone think that axlerod is a disgrace as a point-man for ANY political oganization. he is frumpy, unkempt and generally icky. I liken it to Mangino at U. Kansas being so morbidly obese and still thinking he can lecture kids about keeping in condition. It dosent add up.

Squid Shark on May 25, 2008 at 11:54 AM

lobbyist = bad
legislators = bad
government = bad
oil companys = bad

The enviro-whacko’s are returning us to the stone age without lifting a finger.

Rovin on May 25, 2008 at 11:59 AM

May we say, after this post, that Obambi’s stance with regard to this issue is… petarded?

Sorry.

Rhinoboy on May 25, 2008 at 12:06 PM

The enviro-whacko’s are returning us to the stone age without lifting a finger. Rovin on May 25, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Yet they won’t change their lifestyles.

Lifestyles of the rich and hypocritical!

Mojave Mark on May 25, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Well BO is a God so he can have lobbyist if he wants.

BroncosRock on May 25, 2008 at 12:24 PM

I seem to be noticing a trend here. Obambi has been attempting to preemptively attack on issues where he’s actually the weakest candidate. It really is outrageous the level of intentional hypocrisy and it’s becoming a bit of a tell–something we can use to determine his biggest concerns and fears. Here are some of the recent attacks I’ve noticed that fits this patters:

1. Obambi stands in front of the Senate to take a stand on Veteran’s benefits, calling out McCain and questioning his support for Veterans.

2. A round of recent criticism over Hagee’s endorsement of McCain has made the rounds, equating this issue to Obambi’s pastor issue.

3. Obambi has specifically criticized McCain’s supposed extensive links to lobbyists.

4. Obambi has attacked McCain with faint praise for his “50 years of experience serving our country”.

Obama’s attacks are as dishonest and self serving as any of the outrageous claims made on the campaign trail by Hillary. I thought of Obama that he was politically the worst thing that could be visited on us but was otherwise an ok person. But I am coming the conclusion that he is just exceptionally skilled at lying–outdoing even the Clintons.

BryanS on May 25, 2008 at 12:24 PM

St. Obama seems to be burning through his inventory of “overarching themes” pretty quickly now: The Judgment Candidate? Don’t ask him about Bill Ayers or presidential meetings with A’jad; The First Post-racial Candidate? Don’t mention Calypso Louie Farrakhan or Rev. Wright; The Iraq Bug-Out Candidate? Well, we’re winning and not that many Americans want to surrender anymore. The “lobbyist-Free Candidate”? Yeah, right.

So I’m just trying to remember why we’re supposed to be voting for Buraq? Maybe it’s so we can listen to his charming, underqualified, overprivileged wife bitch about her nasty life in Amerikka for the next four years!

Cicero43 on May 25, 2008 at 12:28 PM

This begs for a snarky TV ad about BHO’s strategist working for an organization that was trying to help prevent indigents from getting healthcare.

Will the Pubs have the stones to do it? Or would that be not “taking the high road.”

eeyore on May 25, 2008 at 12:34 PM

Talking with an Obama supporter today I mentioned this and was treated to a reminder that liberals chant and bleet but cannot listen to facts. Their cause of a progressive socialist nation is bigger than all the facts in the world.

Buzzy on May 25, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Nooooooo! This must be another case of empty neocon smear tactics aimed at The Messiah.

After all, today’s Huffington Pest is headlining McCain’s ties to nasty lobbyists, and we all know Arianna would never tell anything but The Truth. (Just ask her!)

If there was such a mythical beast as “balance” in media reports, Osama Obama would have been toast long, long ago.

MrScribbler on May 25, 2008 at 12:45 PM

The reason that lobbyists are often the sharpest people in the room is that lobbying is a private competitive occupation where people with brains and energy get ahead, and dumb lazy people go broke. No wonder the lobbyists often understand the issues better than the politicians they work for. It’s another example that market competition works.

RBMN on May 25, 2008 at 11:20 AM

I dunno. Is this an example of brains and energy or sleaze/misrepresentation? How sharp do you have to be to sail under false colors?

Axelrod’s firm wanted to set up another phony front group to oppose that same policy, attempting to fake the public into thinking that the “grassroots” effort had nothing to do with the hospitals themselves. Axelrod’s firm had so much success with their front group for the energy company that they planned to duplicate the same dishonest structure in health care — and in both cases, on behalf of opponents of Obama’s professed policies today.

a capella on May 25, 2008 at 12:58 PM

The more his followers hear the truth about him, the deeper they insert their heads up their asses. One must never doubt the MESSiah Baka Obama. He was sent by god to save us from ourselves.

thekingtut on May 25, 2008 at 1:00 PM

Meanwhile, heres’s a Beeb story reporting that Cuban dissidents are saying Obama’s plan to engage Raul Castro would actually be more helpful than the confrontationalist policies of Bush, McCain and Hillary.

Go figure.

factoid on May 25, 2008 at 1:06 PM

Illinois hospitals block a state proposal that would have forced them to provide more medical care to the indigent.

Hospitals like the ones where Aunt Esther, er, Michelle O works as a PR flack?

LOL

These two idiots are phony as hell.

benrand on May 25, 2008 at 1:26 PM

factoid @1:06pm

First of all. it’s the BBC. Second, it sounds like a Cuban dissident was freed on the condition that he and his wife’s group lobby the US in Cuba’s favor.

Vince on May 25, 2008 at 1:45 PM

Exit Question:

Will Obama fire Axelrod, or will he admit that he has been a hypocrite for questioning McCain for his connection to lobbyists — lobbyists who didn’t resort to creating fraudulent front groups for their clients?

Answer: No. He will bluster and bluff with full covering fire from the entire MSM. Issue defused.

Jaibones on May 25, 2008 at 1:49 PM

ASK last year proposed a similar “political campaign style approach” to help Illinois hospitals block a state proposal that would have forced them to provide more medical care to the indigent.

For “indigent,” one may read “people who can’t pay for services.” So if I understand correctly, Axelrod’s consulting firm proposed persuasive means to protect people from being forced to give away more of their time, effort, supplies, equipment, and facilities without hope of being paid. Ed Morrissey, the text is Newsweek‘s, but the emphasis is yours. What are the grounds for your imagining that, just when it suits a case against a Democrat, I would turn on a time and decide freedom is bad and being enslaved is good?

Kralizec on May 25, 2008 at 2:04 PM

The more his followers hear the truth about him, the deeper they insert their heads up their asses. One must never doubt the MESSiah Baka Obama. He was sent by god to save us from ourselves.

thekingtut on May 25, 2008 at 1:00 PM

He is the righteous one. He is the Community Organizer™!

mred on May 25, 2008 at 2:05 PM

When are people going to figure out that Barack Obama is nothing but David Axelrod’s biggest lobbying campaign yet? There is no “there” to Obama at all — he is simply the front man that Axelrod picked for this campaign. I’m still trying to decide what Axelrod’s true motive is: either (a) to show his prospective clients that he is such a genius that he can get the biggest empty suit in history elected President of the United States, or (b) he really is a hardcore radical leftist and Obama is his wolf in sheep’s clothing. I started out believing it was (b), but the longer I watch this campaign and the more I learn about Axelrod, the more I am starting to believe it is really (a). Axelrod is aspiring to be the uber-lobbyist, the guy everyone will want to hire after this campaign. A brilliant part of that strategy is to run a campaign that smears lobbyists in general, and especially the Republican lobbyists like Charlie Black who have run things in Washngton and made fortunes for years. Who is going to get all the lobbying business after those guys fall out of favor? Why, David Axelrod, of course!

rockmom on May 25, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Talking with an Obama supporter today I mentioned this and was treated to a reminder that liberals chant and bleet but cannot listen to facts. Their cause of a progressive socialist nation is bigger than all the facts in the world.

Buzzy on May 25, 2008 at 12:39 PM

I was at a party last night with friends from law school and various other assorted people – 2 of them went to Punahou with Barry – I ended up getting surrounded by angry, uninformed libs who wont listen to anything bad about him and who claim (1) that Bush and Cheny will not be able to leave the country because they will get arrested for war crimes (and that Kissinger is no longer allowed to leave the US for the same reason); (2) that the UN should make decisions for all of us, including going to war; (3)
that we killed 1,000,000 people in Iraq; (4) that Saddam Hussein didn’t do anything wrong -and so on and so on. I actually lost it because I could not believe that otherwise competent people could be so moronic. I actually called them all morons – that’s how rattled they made me. I honestly believe this country is in deep trouble and all the facts in the world wont save us.

HawaiiLwyr on May 25, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Kralizec – Not speaking for Ed, but it seems the point here is not to try to convince you that being enslaved is good, but rather a candidate who says we have to move to single payer healthcare so everybody gets everything for “free” is a bit disingenuous when associated with people (lobbyists!) who want to (hmmm, how to spin?) toss sick poor people out into the snow to die.

eeyore on May 25, 2008 at 2:16 PM

I honestly believe this country is in deep trouble and all the facts in the world wont save us.
HawaiiLwyr on May 25, 2008 at 2:16 PM

I’m convinced that if a hollow poseur like BHO is elected, your point is solidly proven.

eeyore on May 25, 2008 at 2:21 PM

The only CHANGE we will get with Hussein Obama is that he is black and young. As for HOPE…Hope left with BenDover long ago.

geminicontender on May 25, 2008 at 2:41 PM

I have a friend who told me she was going to vote for Obama cuz she thought Hillary’s negatives were too high. I asked her about these recent revelations about Obama and she said she’s heard enough and will vote for McCain if Hillary, who is now or maybe always was her first choice, doesn’t get the nomination… I live in CA which is solidly Dem so who knows maybe McCain, who was my 4th choice, can win in Nov…

CCRWM on May 25, 2008 at 3:11 PM

Wasn’t William Ayers’ father the head of Commonwealth Edison for a good while. What a tidy little group this is beginning to look like. It makes you wonder if Obama is their own little Manchurian candidate.

RW_theoriginal on May 25, 2008 at 3:37 PM

BryanS on May 25, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Good points about Obama’s preemption strategy. He has to know his vulnerabilities, and his game of deflection to put his opponents on the defensive works well with his base.

rockmom on May 25, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Another good point about Axelrod, who is certainly capable of looking out for his own ambitions as a lobbyist. He appears to support his clients, not out of shared conviction but out of personal expedience. He is taking the “A”-train to power, influence, and wealth.

As Capt. Ed repeats, there is nothing wrong with lobbying per se; it is the hypocrisy of the Obama camp in demonizing political opponents while engaging in players who have engaged in fraudulent expedience.

onlineanalyst on May 25, 2008 at 3:42 PM

Axelrod is at the nexus of a lot of political doings these days. He worked with Rahm Emmaneul on the 06 takeover of congress, and he got Deval Patrick elected in Massachusetts. Patick is the prototype for Obama’s campaign and the term “Magic Negro” is extremely apt in both cases.

IMHO, he’s a brilliant tactician like Obama, but hes a tool through and through. And a 3/4 commie.

JAW on May 25, 2008 at 4:02 PM

Capt Ed say it ain’t so. The Obamassiah talking out of both sides of his mouth….again.

This is just so ‘distracting’.

GarandFan on May 25, 2008 at 4:17 PM

Newsweek??? Shocking that they would slam The Anointed One. I guess they can go back to running puff pieces on him from now on. If they’re called on it, they can point to this story as proof of their “balance”.

jgapinoy on May 25, 2008 at 4:50 PM

JAW on May 25, 2008 at 4:02 PM

Thanks for that bit of information; it’s great to tuck away such data in my arsenal of facts. I had wondered how Rahm Emmanuel pulled off his coup back in 2006.

onlineanalyst on May 25, 2008 at 5:46 PM

Didn’t Obama dance with Abramoff’s old firm too?

Theworldisnotenough on May 25, 2008 at 5:47 PM

1. Will Obama fire Axelrod?
2. Will Obama admit that he has been a hypocrite for questioning McCain for his connection to lobbyists?
3. Will Obama fire his own lobbyists who resort to creating fraudulent front groups for their clients?

No.
No.
No.
bait and switch
deny, deny, deny
ignore the question

maverick muse on May 25, 2008 at 6:28 PM

People, people, just stop.

How on earth can pointing out the Obamessiah’s many hypocricies and gaffes possibly be helping Michelle’s children???

/doing the liberal “la la la I can’t hear you!!!” dance

Wanderlust on May 25, 2008 at 7:36 PM

Move on.

This is just a distraction.

Baxter Greene on May 25, 2008 at 7:43 PM

He is the righteous one. He is the Community Organizer™!

mred on May 25, 2008 at 2:05 PM

He is Comrade ObamaHopeiate Of The Masses!

This is my feeble attempt at creating the poster a few of us were discussing earlier this week.

techno_barbarian on May 25, 2008 at 8:29 PM

techno_barbarian on May 25, 2008 at 8:29 PM

Great start, but wrong digit pointing, and it should be straighter :)

OldEnglish on May 25, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Great start, but wrong digit pointing, and it should be straighter :)

OldEnglish on May 25, 2008 at 8:34 PM

Heh. Thanks. I didn’t think about that. ;o)

techno_barbarian on May 25, 2008 at 8:47 PM

This would make a great SNL skit.

myamphibian on May 25, 2008 at 8:57 PM

Axelrod is a tool…and not a very sharp one.

SouthernGent on May 25, 2008 at 8:59 PM

I honestly believe this country is in deep trouble and all the facts in the world wont save us.

That’s a scary story.

In 2004 I worked with a number of people who had been eligible to vote for years but had never been interested in doing so. Of course they all voted for Kerry, because that’s who MTV was backing. Before this, I had bemoaned the apathy that caused these people not to vote at all; but now that looked like the good ole days.

Now you tell us your educated contemporaries are not a lot different from my former coworkers who didn’t all make it out of high school and whose main source of information/news is MTV. Great.

sloopy on May 25, 2008 at 9:03 PM

Wasn’t William Ayers’ father the head of Commonwealth Edison for a good while. What a tidy little group this is beginning to look like. It makes you wonder if Obama is their own little Manchurian candidate.

RW_theoriginal on May 25, 2008 at 3:37 PM

Why yes!

A leading figure in the Chicago business groups that were lobbying for cost cutting and “efficiency” in the Chicago schools in the 1980′s was Bill Ayers’ father, Thomas Ayers. Tom Ayers, of course, was a very prominent Chicago business man, a retired head of Commonwealth Edison…[snip]

Interestingly, after [Barry's] first year in law school Obama returned in the summer of 1989 to work as a summer associate at the prestigious Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. This in and of itself is a bit unusual. Very few top tier law students work for big law firms during their first summer. The big law firms discourage it because if you work for them in the first summer you are likely to work for a second firm the following year and then the firms have to compete to get you.

So, why or how did Obama – at that point not yet the prominent first black president of the Harvard Law Review (that would happen the following year) – end up at Sidley?

Sidley had been long time outside counsel to Commonwealth Edison. The senior Sidley partner who was Comm Ed’s key outside counsel, Howard Trienens, was a member of the board of trustees of Northwestern alongside Tom Ayers (and Sidley partner Newton Minow, too).It turns out, Bernardine Dohrn worked at Sidley also.. She was hired there in the late 80s, because of the intervention of her father-in-law Tom Ayers, even though she was (and is) not a member of any state bar.

Moreover, Commonwealth Edison has been very generous to Barry’s campaign.
Lobbyist bundlers:

The following, according to Public Citizen/WhiteHouseForSale,[14] have been identified by the Obama campaign as bundlers who are also lobbyists who contributed to Obama for America.

* Frank M. Clark[15] is chairman and chief executive officer of Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation. As an Obama bundler, Clark raised $200,000+. FEC records show that on January 26, 2007, he personally contributed $2,000.[16]

Buy Danish on May 25, 2008 at 9:25 PM

Buy Danish on May 25, 2008 at 9:25 PM

It’s weird, isn’t it? On the racial meme, Frank Clark is a black guy, I guess the first black CEO there, but it’s still a publicly held company. There is no affirmative action for CEOs of any color. His bio indicates a guy who somehow worked his way all the way through the company to the top. Not exactly the current path to CEO in the Fortune 100.

So, how does a guy like that support a tax-hiking, big-government socialist? He doesn’t, and race can’t possibly change that, right? I don’t like conspiracy crap, but it’s awfully hard to figure out why Exelon would be big for Obambi, unless the company bigs believe that he is good for them.

Now how could he possibly be good for Exelon?

Jaibones on May 25, 2008 at 10:07 PM

Buy Danish on May 25, 2008 at 9:25 PM
Jaibones on May 25, 2008 at 10:07 PM

Damned interesting posts. Patterns are starting surface, aren’t they?

If our media had any balls, Obambi would’ve been toast a long time ago. There’s no way these connections don’t get looked at hard in the next 5+ months.

techno_barbarian on May 26, 2008 at 12:11 AM

Will Obama fire Axelrod, or will he admit that he has been a hypocrite for questioning McCain for his connection to lobbyists — lobbyists who didn’t resort to creating fraudulent front groups for their clients?

As noted above, No. Obama will not fire Axelrod, and will get the coverage (or lack of it- let the story die) he needs to let this slip away, IMO.

All the comments about Axelrod made me think of Rove and Democratic projection. Is he their Rove, the person who can accomplish getting a thoroughly unqualified candidate (at least that was the Democratic meme) elected?

Something to think about.

cs89 on May 26, 2008 at 2:05 AM

may have been hoist by his own petard

Thank you Ed for getting this Shakespeare reference right. It’s a pet peeve of mine. So often you hear “hoist on his own petard.” A petard is a bomb for goodness sakes.

I also hate it when people use “literally” to give more emphasis to a figurative statement, i.e. “That last lap literally killed me.” The mistake seems to be a lot more common lately. It literally makes me want to kill the speaker.

29Victor on May 26, 2008 at 2:31 AM

to help Illinois hospitals block a state proposal that would have forced them to provide more medical care to the indigent.

Yikes.

29Victor on May 26, 2008 at 2:35 AM

This begs for a snarky TV ad about BHO’s strategist working for an organization that was trying to help prevent indigents from getting healthcare.
eeyore on May 25, 2008 at 12:34 PM

You could say the same for Michelle Obama.

So if I understand correctly, Axelrod’s consulting firm proposed persuasive means to protect people from being forced to give away more of their time, effort, supplies, equipment, and facilities without hope of being paid.
Kralizec on May 25, 2008 at 2:04 PM

Not exactly: they’re being redirected to taxpayer-funded clinics:

Chicago Tribune, 4/22/07:

“For all its national prestige, the University of Chicago Medical Center had a local public-relations problem.

“The academic center was spending millions of dollars on care that would have been more effectively dispensed by a primary care provider. It was a dicey issue because it put the prestigious hospital in the position of telling its low-income, underinsured and mostly African-American neighbors to go somewhere else.

Michelle Obama was charged with tackling the problem—a delicate issue not just for her but potentially for her husband. A close ally and supporter of Barack Obama, the Service Employees International Union has been one of the hospital industry’s fiercest critics of how it handles care for the uninsured.

“But the U. of C. program has won praise from community health providers who say Michelle Obama was uniquely suited to tackle the issue.

“Because she is of color, that gives her some credibility,” said Wendy Cox, chief executive of Chicago Family Health Center, which operates health centers on the South and Southeast Sides.

“In early 2005, Obama assembled a meeting of health-care providers and members of the community to ask for their help. She talked about the black community’s distrust of the health-care system and about how the lack of health insurance prevents people from seeking less expensive, preventive care.

“Berneice Mills-Thomas, executive director of clinic operator Near North Health Service Corp., said the meeting differed markedly from many she had with University of Chicago Hospital executives over the years.

“Her meetings stood out from others because our goals were also her goals,” said Mills-Thomas.

“The team got to work. Obama started a screening system in the ER waiting room, where people routinely showed up with a lunch and camped out to wait for a doctor, to search for people who didn’t belong there.

“After treating those individuals, hospital employees would sit down and talk with them. Rather than tell them they should go somewhere else in the future, Obama’s staff referred them to specific clinic doctors and scheduled appointments.

“Coming from someone else, the message might have inflamed relations with the community.

“After just a year, the effects of the outreach program don’t show up in the hospital’s bottom line. Still, officials think they’re starting to chip away at one of the worst recurring problems of the health system.”

TRANSLATION: Michelle’s job is to get the freeloaders out of the profit-making UCH ER, and force them into clinics run by Near North Health Service Corp. and Chicago Family Health centers, which are federally-funded Section 330 health clinics. In addition to lump sum federal grants, Section 330 clinics receive “enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, medical malpractice coverage through the Federal Tort Claims Act, eligibility to purchase prescription and non-prescription medications for outpatients at reduced cost through the 340B Drug Pricing Program, access to National Health Service Corps, access to the Vaccine for Children program, and eligibility for various other federal grants and programs.”

Almost half of Near North Health SC‘s clients are on Medicare/Medicaid, by the way.

Nichevo on May 26, 2008 at 8:54 AM

There’s something poetic about this- a guy who brings phony things to life is the brains of the Obama campaign.

drjohn on May 26, 2008 at 9:01 AM

Buy Danish on May 25, 2008 at 9:25 PM

Nicely done!

drjohn on May 26, 2008 at 9:04 AM

Now how could he possibly be good for Exelon?

Jaibones on May 25, 2008 at 10:07 PM

Excellent question. Connecting the dots is very important.

Terri on May 26, 2008 at 9:15 AM

Axelrod says he isn’t a lobbyist because he doesn’t do business in DC . . .

What??? Is he crazy? So who are those people that lobby the state and local politicians and agencies? Do they have a different title/name for them besides “lobbyist”?

Terri on May 26, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Bill Ayers’ father, Thomas Ayers. Tom Ayers, of course, was a very prominent Chicago business man, a retired head of Commonwealth Edison…[snip]

Read the entire piece! It’s an amazing story.

It is the good fortune of Democrats that people are generally stupid and won’t be able to follow the nuances. That is to say that most Democrats won’t be able to follow it either.

Thank you greatly, Danish!

drjohn on May 26, 2008 at 9:24 AM

Now how could he possibly be good for Exelon?

Jaibones on May 25, 2008 at 10:07 PM


[The Illinois-based Exelon,
the nation’s largest nuclear power plant operator] also helped Obama’s 2004 senatorial campaign. As Ken Silverstein reported in the November 2006 issue of Harper’s, ‘[Exelon] is Obama’s fourth largest patron, having donated a total of $74,350 to his campaigns. During debate on the 2005 energy bill, Obama helped to vote down an amendment that would have killed vast loan guarantees for power-plant operators to develop new energy projects … the public will not only pay millions of dollars in loan costs but will risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default.’”

There’s a lot of interesting stuff about Obama donors in that link. I found this tidbit amusing, considering the latest news about David Axelrod:

Obama backed down from an earlier pledge that lobbyists “will not work in my White House” after the media questioned its feasibility. He then said that lobbyists would not “dominate” or “run” his administration but acknowledged that they would “have a seat at the table”.

Nichevo on May 26, 2008 at 8:54 AM

To the best of my knowledge, Michelle Obama is still working “part-time” for the University of Chicago Hospitals. I’d be interested to know is her salary has been adjusted downward to reflect her part time status.

Buy Danish on May 26, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Wacky Bar-acky, and his Strategist, be hatin’ on hobos.

Is there a problem here?

franksalterego on May 26, 2008 at 11:39 AM

David Axelrod (Captain Combover), is every bit as honest and trustworthy as Barack Obama! Heh.

alacrityfitzhugh on May 26, 2008 at 1:51 PM