How thoroughly did Barack Obama vet Joe Biden? After months of demonizing lobbyists, Obama selected a running mate who has taken millions in contributions from those same lobbyists Obama supposedly eschewed, at least until the DNC started running out of money. In fact, Biden’s son works as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill, accruing the kind of earmarks that Obama has both decried and pursued:
Biden has accepted $5,133,072 in contributions from lawyers and lobbyists since 2003. Obama does not accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists.
And he has one other weakness that hasn’t received much attention to date. One of Biden’s sons, Hunter, is a registered Washington lobbyist in a year in which Obama has been excoriating lobbyists and the culture of corruption in Washington. The younger Biden is a name partner at the firm Oldaker, Biden & Belair, LLP, and seems to have specialized in lobbying for just the kind of earmark spending by Congress that Obama has vowed to slash. Republican insiders say the party is likely to make an issue of Biden’s family lobbying ties.
Also expect to hear more about Biden’s close ties with credit card companies. His largest contributor (based on total contributions by employees) over the past five years has been MBNA, the Delaware-based bank aquired in 2005 by Bank of America than until then was the world’s largest independent credit card issuer and a major supporter of the 2005 bankruptcy bill that Biden crossed the aisle to support.
Once again, I want to point out that lobbying is a Constitutionally protected exercise. The First Amendment gives Americans the right to petition Congress, and nothing prohibits or even discourages citizens from organizing in that effort to harness the power of numbers. Run ethically, the practice of lobbying fills an important role in politics.
Of course, I’m not the one declaring lobbyists persona non grata in the Democratic Party. That was Barack Obama, who declared just two months ago that lobbyists would not fund “my party”:
The Democratic National Committee will uphold the same standard: We will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. … They will not fund my party!
Take a look at the top five industries that donate to Biden as well:
- Lawyers/law firms
- Real estate
- Securities & investment
- Miscellaneous finance
Real estate and miscellaneous finance — wouldn’t that figure into the credit crisis and the housing market collapse?
It looks like Obama didn’t just throw Hope and Change under the bus, but himself right along with it. Whether this is hypocrisy or incompetence, it’s stunning either way.
Update & Bump, 8/24: Apparently, R. Hunter Biden doesn’t lobby his father, but his firm does. Looks like a conflict of interest:
William Oldaker, another named partner and former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission, has been Sen. Biden’s campaign treasurer for Congress.
Oldaker has advised Biden on campaign issues, first during the Senator’s failed 1988 presidential bid. And while Oldaker has said he does not lobby Biden personally, he has spoken with Biden’s staff about some clients.
One example was the University of Delaware, which Oldaker approached in 2002, shortly after founding the firm with Hunter Biden and Robert Belair. Since then, the university has paid Oldaker’s firm $1.5 million.
The payoff: as of 2006, $24.8 million in earmarks for defense research, a student-exchange program, and a drug-and-alcohol-studies program.
This hardly points to Hope and Change. Looks like Obama sold out to the Beltway.