Lobbyist pas de deux continues

posted at 5:25 pm on May 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

With the Barack Obama campaign continuing to hammer away at John McCain for having lobbyists on his campaign staff, Soren Dayton wonders why turnabout hasn’t been made fair play yet. It all depends on the meaning of the word “staff”, apparently, as Dayton and the Washington Post discovered earlier this week:

Barack Obama’s campaign tries to play “count the lobbyist” with John McCain. Now I don’t accept the lobbyist = bad equation, and so I think that this is all a little trivial.

But hypocrisy is not trivial. Let’s do a little recount of the lobbyists around Obama.

There’s Jim Johnson, who I have previously written about. Johnson has represented the former Prime Minister of Senegal, and as CEO of Fannie Mae, he improperly disclosed profits that resulted in him getting a big bonus he didn’t deserve. Obama put this lobbyist-fundraiser-foreign-agent in charge of picking his Vice Presidential candidate.

There’s Francisco J. Pavía, his Puerto Rico state director, and a lobbyist for the Government of Puerto Rico. That violates Obama’s lobbyist policy. What have they done about that?

There’s his chief strategist David Axelrod, may not be exactly a lobbyist but certainly represents a lot of those corporations that Obama condemns. Obama said “I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.” I guess that the corporate lobbyists are elemental evil, while corporate admen and astroturfers are all good.

Obama’s campaign said in response to Pavia that he was an “active volunteer” and therefore could work on the campaign. Isn’t that getting a little too cute by half? The purpose for the no-lobbyist rule wasn’t that Obama (and McCain) would eschew paying them — it was about their influence on the campaign. Regardless of whether they volunteer or occupy paid positions on the staff, they have obvious access to the candidate, and that supposedly was the point.

Actually, when one considers the issue, having a lobbyist volunteer to do political favors sounds more suspicious than paying them for their work. One has to ask what the lobbyist expects to receive for all of these hours as a volunteer. A paid relationship would establish a normal, above-board relationship, as the person would get all of the compensation one would expect as a salary, rather than favors down the road.

It’s an absurd issue in any case. Lobbyists aren’t criminals; they represent groups of citizens before Congress on legislative matters. If Obama and McCain want to reduce the influence of lobbyists, they can start by reducing the power and scope of the federal government, which creates the spoils system on which they thrive. That would be a lot more effective than kicking them off the campaign payroll, and more meaningful.

However, the Obama campaign response insults the intelligence. If Obama thinks that having lobbyists on campaigns is a bad idea, he shouldn’t have any working in any capacity on his campaign at all, paid or not. Drawing distinctions such as these is grossly hypocritical and laughably obtuse.


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No, no, no. You can’t talk about Barack’s ‘business relationships.’ Or his middle name. Or his pastor. Or his lack of a voting record. Or his lack of specifics. Or of his relationship with Ayers. Or about his wife. Or about his race.

Just shut up, dammit.

cannonball on May 30, 2008 at 5:32 PM

The only problem I have with lobbyists is that I think anyone who has held a government position should be banned from being a lobbyist.
I hate to think our tax money was spent grooming someone to make contacts to make a fortune lobbying.

right2bright on May 30, 2008 at 5:32 PM

Or about a trip to Iraq.

cannonball on May 30, 2008 at 5:33 PM

At least John McCain is paying his lobbyists. No one works for free. It makes you wonder what those lobbyists volunteering for Obama expect to get out of the deal…

Bill Scrunty on May 30, 2008 at 5:33 PM

Lobbyists aren’t criminals; they represent groups of citizens before Congress on legislative matters.

Hmm still no warm feelers for Lobbists.

upinak on May 30, 2008 at 5:34 PM

It’s an absurd issue in any case. Lobbyists aren’t criminals; they represent groups of citizens before Congress on legislative matters.

A big fat Touche’

Nelsa on May 30, 2008 at 5:34 PM

right2bright on May 30, 2008 at 5:32 PM

right now here is a question. Would a Government Position be one they “applied for” or one they were “appointed” too?

upinak on May 30, 2008 at 5:35 PM

There once was a man named Barack,
One McCain he decides to Attack.
He says on his trips,
“question Mac’s relationships!”
But of his own foibles we are not allowed to smack.

cannonball on May 30, 2008 at 5:37 PM

Obama’s campaign said in response to Pavia that he was an “active volunteer” and therefore could work on the campaign.

This is the thought process of a deceitful person, representing a deceitful party.
I can hardly wait for the excuses when he gets nailed on campaign contributions.

right2bright on May 30, 2008 at 5:37 PM

Yeah, if Senator Obama was really about changing the government, he would be talking about ending the ability of the Federal goverment to spend money on projects the benefit only a single state. If states need money, they should tax their citizens! Money should not be going from the Citizen, to the Federal Government, then to the States. That inflates the Gov’t’s power, its budget, and results in a whole lot of waste. Money to the Federal Gov’t should be FOR the Federal Gov’t. If it doesn’t need all that money, IT SHOULD GIVE IT BACK.

apollyonbob on May 30, 2008 at 5:45 PM

The bigger question is….

Is anyone paying these Obama volunteers? ie… are they on a paid leave of abscence from their firms?

I’ve been trying to find out about Chelsea Clinton too, but they won’t answer that question.

If so, could that be construed as an illegal campaign contribution?

Romeo13 on May 30, 2008 at 5:52 PM

Axelrod is a sleaze, as well as one of the faces of the Obama campaign. He has been Obama’s point man for defending the campaign’s practices on cable news. Republicans should shine a spotlight on that guy pronto.

Big S on May 30, 2008 at 6:18 PM

The hospital that Michelle O. works for got a large grant after he became a US senator. Pfleger got a bunch of federal money also. Those that hang with the Great One do OK at our expense. The MSM, thankfully, doesn’t confuse the public with info about this kind of thing.

snaggletoothie on May 30, 2008 at 6:28 PM

Dems were screaming, “So, no child in Trinity UCC can grow up to become president?!”

I just screamed, “So, no one engaged in the lawful pursuit of group representation in a free country can work for a campaign?!”

Akzed on May 30, 2008 at 7:07 PM

Forget all that, the gas pump I helped design is in that cover picture!
Yes, I used to work in the evil gas and oil industry with our obscene 4% profit margins!
Speaking of profit margins, aren’t lobbyists paid money to kiss Congressional butt? What is that, like 100% profit margin???

common sensineer on May 30, 2008 at 8:50 PM

This hits on like point 18 of the “Obama Just doesn’t get it does he?” memo that needs to come out in September or so, he seems to just keep missing the big picture here.

Rbastid on May 31, 2008 at 1:36 AM

“I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.”

I’m rolling my eyes, trying hard not to reflux my breakfast as I read this, and wondering if there really are people in this country that are stupid enough to believe this tripe. I guess it’ll be like Bill Clinton’s most ethical administration in history. GAG.

abcurtis on May 31, 2008 at 9:52 AM

Obama’s Axelrod sits on the “raise the roof” committee at Pfleger’s St Sabina church too, if that matters. His name is about half way down the page.

abcurtis on May 31, 2008 at 9:56 AM

Axelrod is a sleaze, as well as one of the faces of the Obama campaign. He has been Obama’s point man for defending the campaign’s practices on cable news. Republicans should shine a spotlight on that guy pronto.

Big S on May 30, 2008 at 6:18 PM

I think Axelrod is going to be Obama’s Lanny Davis.

abcurtis on May 31, 2008 at 9:58 AM