Trading Places

Update: Boston Globe on Obama’s bull: But behind Obama’s campaign rhetoric about taking on special interests lies a more complicated truth. A Globe review of Obama’s campaign finance records shows that he collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and PACs as a state legislator in Illinois, a US senator, and a presidential aspirant.

New York Times on Edwards’ bull: Mr. Edwards, who has repeatedly criticized Mrs. Clinton for refusing to turn away donations from lobbyists, was asked at the Democratic debate in Chicago on Tuesday about his own fund-raising among lawyers. He drew a distinction by saying the job of lobbyists “is to rig this system against all of you.”

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Update: Let’s not forget this. Another myth falls apart: Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) outspent chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on polling and research by almost three to one during the last three months, according to the latest financial disclosure reports filed on Sunday.
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Even though he is the Senator from Rezko, Barack Obama is still trying to delude voters into thinking he is the “clean” “new politics” candidate and not a typical conventional Chicago pol. Obama and his supporters enjoy pretending they are morally superior and fooling voters.

On July 26, 2007, Barack Obama received one of the few endorsements he has been able to scrape up in this election.

Obama said he was proud to have Hodes’ endorsement, but conceded he would not have near the number of endorsements that other candidates, like Hillary Clinton will have.

We haven’t been in Washington all that long and we haven’t traded that many favors,” Obama said.

Obama and his supporters constantly sell the line that they are pure and everyone else buys favors or influence. Obama is good with the flowery language of denunciation but reality is contrary to what he says.

Two weeks after Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) won the first endorsement of a lawmaker from Iowa or New Hampshire, a new fundraising report shows that he has spent the past two months using money from his leadership political action committee (PAC) to court them.

Obama showered lawmakers from Iowa and New Hampshire with contributions while other presidential hopefuls turned their focus to raising money for their presidential campaign accounts, records show. [snip]

In June, Obama gave $5,000 contributions from his PAC, Hopefund, to every Democratic member of Congress from Iowa and New Hampshire. On June 15, he gave to Reps. Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, and Reps. Bruce Braley, David Loebsack and Leonard Boswell of Iowa. At the end of the month, he wrote a $5,000 check to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Obama’s wooing paid off last month. On July 26, Hodes became the first lawmaker from Iowa or New Hampshire to make an endorsement in the Democratic primary, throwing his support to Obama.

Thom Edsall has a few thoughts on Obama and his “new politics” today and the issue of lobbyists:

Edwards and Obama may not be taking contributions from federally registered lobbyists, but that does not mean that their money is as pure as they’d like us to believe.

Edwards’ 2004 campaign manager, Nick Baldick, who is currently a senior adviser to the 2008 campaign, is a founder of the Washington lobbying firm Avenue Solutions, which includes among its clients Aetna, Northwest Airlines, the Healthcare Leadership Council, Medco, Travelers Cos. Inc., and the Financial Services Roundtable.

Baldick left the firm in 2006 to found Hilltop Public Solutions which, according to its website, has “managed winning campaigns for clients that have included the nation’s largest financial services firm, one of the nation’s largest airlines, a major fast food retailer, the world’s largest healthcare provider, and numerous additional industry leaders.” It generally performs these services at a state level and is not federally registered.

At least three staffers on the Obama campaign were registered as federal lobbyists, although two worked for such pro-Democratic clients as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Environmental Defense Fund. The third, Emmett Beliveau, worked at Patton Boggs LLP, which includes among its clients Giner Electrochemical Systems, the Offshore Marine Service Association, ABT Associates, and Preferred Communications Systems.

In addition, the campaign web site Opensecrets.org reports that Edwards has received $6.5 million from lawyers, many of them trial lawyers; $668,590 from employees in the investment banking industry; $254,297 from officials of the health care industry and $218,290 from operators of hedge funds.

Obama has been no slouch in this territory, according to Opensecrets. Employees of investment banking firms gave him $3.2 million; real estate companies $1.3 million; health companies, $701,993; and hedge funds $652,105.

It’s always fun listening to Obama or Axelrod insert the word “federal” into their sentence about how Obama does not take [insert “federal” here] lobbyist money. That’s because Obama does take PAC and non-Federal lobbyists’ money.

Another example of Obama’s flowery language and thorny actions:

While pledging to turn down donations from lobbyists themselves, Sen. Barack 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.Portraying himself as a new-style politician determined to reform Washington, Obama makes his policy clear in fundraising invitations, stating that he takes no donations from “federal lobbyists.” His aides announced last week he was returning $43,000 to lobbyists who donated to his campaign.

But the Illinois Democrat’s policy of shunning money from lobbyists registered to do business on Capitol Hill does not extend to lawyers whose partners lobby there.

Nor does the ban apply to corporations that have major lobbying operations in Washington. And the prohibition does not extend to lobbyists who ply their trade in such state capitals as Springfield, Ill.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Sacramento, though some deal with national clients and issues.

“Clearly, the distinction is not that significant,” said Stephen Weissman of the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on campaign issues.

He gets an asterisk that says he is trying to be different,” Weissman said. “But overall, the same wealthy interests are funding his campaign as are funding other candidates, whether or not they are lobbyists.”

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