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Follow the Money: Obama's lobbyist bundlers

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Doomsday101, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    After reading RezkoWatch's March 30, 2008, article about indicted political fixer Antoin "Tony" Rezko's "dirty money" list, and its connections with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), a concerned RezkoWatcher wrote:

    Speech after speech and e-mail after e-mail from Obama's campaign continuously opine his claim of 'no money from lobbyists'. Many watchdog groups have concluded that he is the leader now in lobbyists' donations. I believe Obama and his campaign are extremely disingenuous when they continually repeat this story as fact.

    I would like to set the record straight. His latest ad in Pennsylvania says he does not take money from oil companies (fact check) ... can we force this issue into the open as it looms large in 'folks' minds?

    The following article posted in January 2008 elsewhere on the internet has been reposted here with the permission of the author.

    "While pledging to turn down donations from lobbyists themselves, Senator Obama raised more than $1 million in the first three months of his presidential campaign from law firms and companies that have major lobbying operations in the nation's capital," Dan Morain wrote April 23, 2007, in the Los Angeles Times.

    Stephen Weissman of the nonpartisan think tank Campaign Finance Institute said Obama "gets an asterisk that says he is trying to be different ... But overall, the same wealthy interests are funding his campaign as are funding other candidates, whether or not they are lobbyists," Morain wrote.

    Public Citizen (WhiteHouseForSale.or) lists nine of Sen. Obama's fundraising bundlers as registered lobbyists who have collected in the neighborhood of $1.5 million for his campaign—in addition to their own personal contributions.

    Frank M. Clark 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 $2,100 to Obama for America.

    Scott Blake Harris is the managing partner of the Washington, D.C., firm Harris Wiltshire and Grannis, which handles such legislative issues as Communications/Broadcasting/ Radio/TV, Science/Technology, Telecommunications, and Trade (Foreign and Domestic), as well as representing the Computing Technology Industry Association. As an Obama bundler, Harris raised $200,000+. FEC records show that on March 15, 2007, he personally contributed $2,000 to Obama for America.

    Allan J. Katz is a shareholder and chairman of the Policy Practice Group at Akerman Senterfitt in Tallahassee, Florida. Katz is a Member of the Florida Democratic Committee and Democratic National Committee, and Tallahassee City Commissioner. As an Obama bundler, Katz raised $200,000+ with Marilyn Katz of MK Communications (who personally contributed $1,000 to Obama for America on January 21, 2007).

    Robert S. Litt is a partner at the Washington, D.C. firm Arnold & Porter, a regulatory and public affairs firm which represents multiple clients in a variety of industries. As an Obama bundler, Litt raised unknown amount of money. FEC records show that Litt personally contributed $2,300 on February 26, 2007 and $2,300 on May 2, 2007 to Obama for America.

    Thomas J. Perrelli is managing partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Jenner and Block, a Chicago general practice law firm, which includes among its clients the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and Time Warner Inc. As an Obama bundler, Perrelli raised $200,000+. FEC records show that Perrelli personally contributed $2,100 on January 16, 2007 and $200 on March 5, 2007 and $2,300 on March 21, 2007 to Obama for America.

    Thomas A. Reed is Of Counsel at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis LLP K&L Gates), which represents multiple industries and multiple clients. As an Obama bundler, Reed raised $200,000+. FEC records show that on March 20, 2007, Reed contributed $2,300 to Obama for America.

    Paul N. Roth is a partner at the New York firm Schulte Roth & Zabel, which represents financial institutions, investments, securities, including Cerberus Capital Partners. As an Obama bundler, Roth raised at least $50,000. FEC records show that on March 20, 2007, Roth personally contributed $2,300 to Obama for America.

    Alan D. Solomont of Solomont Bailis Ventures in Massachusetts represents Health Services/HMOs. As an Obama bundler, Solomont raised $200,000+. FEC records show that Solomont personally contributed $2,100 on January 26, 2007; $2,500 on March 30, 2007 (Rebecca Solomont at the same address made two $2,300 contributions on the same day); and $2,300 on March 30, 2007 to Obama for America.

    Tom E. Wheeler is managing director of Core Capital Partners, a private equity fund in Washington, D.C. As an Obama bundler, Wheeler raised $100,000+. FEC records show that Wheeler personally contributed $2,100 on January 16, 2007; $2,500 on May 2, 2007 and an additional $2,300 on May 2, 2007 to Obama for America. (Note: another $2,300 was added then removed also on May 2, 2007.)

    Not included on this list is Peter Bynoe, an attorney, lobbyist and partner in Piper Rudnick LLP, as well as an Obama bundler. What makes Bynoe stand out from the rest is that on July 25, 2003, he gave $25,000.00 to Tony Rezko.


    Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank wrote July 4, 2007, in the Dissident Voice.

    "Barack, for the second quarter in a row, has surpassed the fundraising prowess of Hillary Clinton. To be sure small online donations have propelled the young senator to the top, but so too have his connections to big industry. The Obama campaign, as of late March 2007, has accepted $159,800 from executives and employees of Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear power plant operator.

    "The Illinois-based company 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.'"

    For additional information, see Laura MacCleery, They talk big, but will candidates deliver the fundraising transparency we need?, MyDD, August 8, 2007, on Obama's lobbyist contributors, and Lynn Sweet, Obama, at Sun-Times request, releases names of finance committee members, Senate interns, Chicago Sun-Times, March 24, 2008.

    UPDATE: It appears that, as well as RezkoWatch's article on Obama bundlers, Jeff Gold at Stop Obama wrote his own version Obama and Bundling Washington Lobbyists on March 31, 2008, which is a follow up to his March 30, 2008, Obama Lobbyist Policy: say No in Public, ask about Spouse in Private and Lawyers and Lobbyists contribute $13,456,386 to Obama.
  2. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    CNN) -- Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama like to portray themselves as Washington outsiders, but neither candidate is completely clean of the influence of lobbyists.

    Politicians know that tough talk on lobbyists sounds good to the public, but the reality is that top level candidates can't live without them, experts say.

    "They know they work with lobbyists. They have staffers who have been lobbyists. They are going to depend on lobbyists for a lot of the information on the decisions they make if they get elected. So, absolutely there's a lot of hypocrisy involved," said Larry Sabato, a politics professor at the University of Virginia.

    During this campaign, lobbyists and trade groups donated $181,000 to McCain, while Obama received $6,000, according to the New York Times. In all, lobbyists reported contributions of $4.7 million to Democrats and $3.3 million to Republicans, the Times reported this week.

    But those figures only include registered lobbyists and trade groups -- not big companies that could have lobbyist ties.

    Still, both candidates maintain they are above the influence of lobbyists.

    Obama has pledged not to take money from lobbyists, but even within that promise there are loopholes.

    His campaign says it steers clear of registered federal lobbyists, but it does take money from lobbyists at state and local levels.

    The senator from Illinois also has taken in $18.8 million from lawyers and law firms, according to estimates from the Center for Responsive Politics, and some of those firms employ lobbyists for special interest clients. Watch where Obama's money comes from »

    "People who are not directly registered as lobbyists but perhaps working for a company, maybe working for a company in a capacity that's tangentially related to the government affairs, can give money," said Lisa Lerer, who covers lobbying for Politico.

    "And just because you don't take money from lobbyists, of course, does not mean you're not taking money from big business."

    This past April, McCain spoke out against lobbyists, saying "workers and entrepreneurs of America are taken for granted by their government while the lobbyists and special pleaders are seldom turned away." Watch more on McCain's interactions with lobbyists »

    But McCain raised eyebrows in 2006 when he attended a fancy soiree of the little-known but well-respected International Republican Institute in Washington.

    A video from the group's Web site shows the chairman of AT&T -- which had just donated $200,000 to the institute -- introducing McCain, who is still chairman of its board.

    McCain at the time was fresh off a term as chairman of the Senate committee that regulates telephone companies.

    AT&T said there were no strings attached to the donation, but that's not always the point.

    "Access is the name of the game. It's getting in the door to see the candidate so you can make your case. Sometimes you don't even need to see the candidate, you just talk to staff members, the people who influence a candidate's decision," Sabato said.

    IRI gets almost all of its money from the federal government to do things like promote democracy around the world and help governments run more efficiently -- a cause McCain believes in.

    A former IRI staffer who also worked for McCain's 2000 presidential campaign said that while the IRI event may have brought McCain and lobbyists together, the event did not involve any favors or deals.

    Additionally, a candidate can completely avoid lobbyists and rake in millions from so-called bundlers, deep-pocket contributors who work to get others to fork over the maximum individual contribution.

    Sheila Krumholz, executive director for the Center for Responsive Politics, says the organization has been working to find out more about bundlers such as how much they have raised and where they work, so they can better identify the source of the money.

    "We know that Barack Obama has raised at least $52.2 million from bundlers, or about 18 percent of his overall receipts," Krumholz said.

    Obama's campaign figures show that 94 percent of the money going to Obama comes from people writing checks for $200 or less.

    CNN obtained an e-mail in which a top-dollar fundraiser promised a private meeting with Obama for Iranian Americans if the group could raise $250,000.

    The Obama campaign said the e-mailer was wrong to make such a promise and fell short of their financial goal.

    A spokesman said Obama did speak to the group for about 15 minutes, pausing for handshakes and photos.

    In fact, Obama's campaign is offering a chance to meet their candidate to anyone who joins their donor pool.

    Obama on his Web site tells visitors anyone who donates any amount by July 31 could be selected to come to Denver, Colorado, to join him backstage at the the Democratic convention.
  3. AtlCB

    AtlCB Active Member

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