Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are battling to paint each other as the crony-in-chief candidate. But the truth is, both candidates are awash in lobbyist money and connections.
So far, Mitt Romney has refused to release the names of all his bundlers. Thirty-four of these individuals are known, because laws require registered lobbyists to disclose their donor activities. Together, they have raised $5.2 million for Romney.
Recently, the Huffington Post reported that:
Seven-hundred forty-eight Washington lobbyists and dozens of corporate and lobbying firm PACs have already given $1.87 million to benefit Romney through his campaign or through the victory committee sending funds to the Republican National Committee and a host of state parties, according to records filed with the Secretary of the Senate….
The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee do not accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists.
That last part about Barack Obama not accepting money from lobbyists, however, hinges on the technicality of the word “registered.” Indeed, as the New York Times has reported:
Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid.
At least 15 of Mr. Obama’s “bundlers” — supporters who contribute their own money to his campaign and solicit it from others — are involved in lobbying for Washington consulting shops or private companies. They have raised more than $5 million so far for the campaign.
Furthermore, the New York Times has revealed that the Obama White House has worked to keep lobbyists’ names out of the White House visitor logs by setting up “hundreds” of meetings with big money lobbyists at DC coffee shops instead of the White House:
At the Caribou on Pennsylvania Avenue, and a few other nearby coffee shops, White House officials have met hundreds of times over the last 18 months with prominent K Street lobbyists — members of the same industry that President Obama has derided for what he calls its “outsized influence” in the capital.
Indeed, over 40 of President Obama’s senior administration officials are themselves former lobbyists. Furthermore, last week it was revealed that Obama campaign manager Jim Messina used his personal email account to send numerous messages to lobbyists.
Bottom line: despite the political posturing over the role of lobbyists and influence peddlers, neither candidate is a pillar of virtue and light.