Barack Obama attacked John McCain for hiring former lobbyists as part of his campaign, even launching a new website to highlight the attack, called McLobbyist. Perhaps Team Obama will launch a new one called JoeLobbyist that will focus on his running mate’s decision to hire an active lobbyist for his simultaneous Senate campaign. Biden has hired William Oldaker, a partner in his son’s lobbying firm, as his campaign’s legal counsel:
As Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama targets his Republican rival Sen. John McCain for hiring former lobbyists to work on his campaign, a key member of Obama’s campaign is paying a Washington lobbyist for legal advice: his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden.
Lobbyist William Oldaker continues to represent the Delaware Democrat in his simultaneous bid for Senate re-election, serving as legal counsel just as he has for Biden’s campaigns for the past 25 years.
Oldaker is an election law attorney and partners with Biden’s son Hunter at the Washington firm, Oldaker, Biden & Belair. He is also an appropriations lobbyist who represents lawyers, American Indians, and educational and health care institutions and who drew fire in 2005 for serving on numerous fundraising committees that donate to the lawmakers he lobbies.
Team Obama responded to the USA Today story by noting that Oldaker also performs work as an attorney. However, that distinction gets lost in Obama’s attacks on McCain for hiring former lobbyists who also have other expertise as campaign officials. The hypocrisy is a little much for Bill Ellison of the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan watchdog group:
Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group, said the same standard for a presidential campaign should apply to a Senate campaign.
“For someone who criticizes McCain for having former lobbyists who most likely will lobby again at some point at the top levels of his campaign, it seems completely inconsistent to have a running mate whose Senate campaign is being run by an active Washington lobbyist,” he said.
Indeed. Either lobbyists are a problem or they’re not. If inactive lobbyists are so detrimental that Obama feels the need to point them out in McCain’s campaign, then an active lobbyist in Biden’s campaign represents the same problems. If Obama has no problem with an active lobbyist working for his running mate, then that strongly suggests that Obama has been a hypocrite all along on lobbyists.
And Oldaker is no dabbler when it comes to lobbying. The Center for Public Integrity reported that Oldaker served as treasurer for 23 PACs, and handled their contributions to political candidates, over a 20-year period. That represents the exact problem with lobbyists that Obama has decried on the stump — their connections to politicians through contributions and the effect they have on the political process. Obama pledged to refuse such contributions for that reason, and yet his running mate has literally hired the exact kind of lobbyist that Obama has spent the last several months demonizing.
Why would Obama give Biden a pass? Apart from the obvious reason, Obama has his own connection to Oldaker and his firm. Obama pursued more than $3 million in pork projects for Hunter Biden, Joe’s son and Oldaker’s partner at the lobbying firm. He succeeded in landing one earmark for almost $200,000.
Will the hypocrisy never end? Maybe it will on November 4th.