Just a reminder: Obama’s a hypocrite on lobbyist money
posted at 2:04 pm on September 21, 2008 by Allahpundit
Back we go to this tedious subject about which few voters much care but which The One, lacking any compelling evidence that he’ll bring a new type of politics to Washington, loves to invoke as proof of his immaculate Change-iness. Unlike the insiders, you see, he doesn’t take money from federally registered lobbyists or special interests, and from now on neither will the Democratic Party. Except that he does sometimes take money from federally registered lobbyists; and so does the Democratic Party, per its congressional reelection committees; and he’s overflowing with cash from employees of special interests, including employees of those dastardly oil companies; oh, and needless to say, he misleads voters about all of this by choosing his words very, very carefully even while he’s busy tossing out zingers about McCain’s lobbyist “old boys network.” (Get it?)
But if none of those earlier posts penetrated and you’re looking for a concise, all-in-one recap of The One’s cynicism on this point, dive into Matthew Cooper’s piece for Portfolio:
He’d had no problem accepting contributions from registered Washington lobbyists in his previous races for the Illinois statehouse, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate. So now that he’s scoring political points for the ban, what impact has it actually had?…
The campaign accepts money from lobbyists registered in state capitals. It accepts money from partners at law firms that engage in lobbying. It accepts money from the C.E.O.’s, chairs, and officers of corporations, but not their lobbyists. Obama has received more than $627,000 in contributions from employees of Goldman Sachs, including, for example, $2,300 (the maximum contribution allowed) from the likes of managing director George Butcher. But Michael Berman, a registered lobbyist (and a former adviser to Walter Mondale), cannot give money to Obama because his firm, the Duberstein Group, has lobbied on behalf of Goldman Sachs on energy and tax issues. Aren’t such policies a little inconsistent with the ban? “Maybe,” said the senior Obama official. “But it’s important symbolism.”
I recently spoke with a very successful registered Washington lobbyist, a Democrat who asked not to be named in this piece for fear of diminishing his influence with a possible Obama administration. Even though the Obama campaign wouldn’t accept a check from the lobbyist personally, he says, Obama aides asked him to help them raise money in other ways. “They wanted my list,” the lobbyist says, referring to the many donors the lobbyist has solicited for other campaigns. “Since then, they’ve asked if I could organize fundraisers but said that I couldn’t donate.”…
For all the hand-wringing over lobbyists, it’s worth noting that since there are few restrictions on donations to political conventions, the nominating conventions for both candidates were paid for by a slew of direct corporate donors, including AT&T, Qwest, and others. Bill Allison, a senior fellow with the Sunlight Foundation, which promotes transparency in government, notes that the campaigns are “all running around lifting their skirts like there’s a mouse, saying ‘Eek, there’s a lobbyist!’ But they’re raising tons of money” from corporate interests.
He takes money from lobbyists’ spouses too, and even has federally registered lobbyists working for his campaign — but as volunteers, not paid employees, so that’s cool. The worst part is, his stance on this isn’t even the most glaring example of his opportunistic hypocrisy on “reform” issues, so since we’re dredging up old posts to revisit, go ahead and re-read this one too. The guy’s a poseur. Case closed.