For years, civil libertarians and environmentalist have denounced President Obama for his policies violating core principles of those movements. Now anti-corruption and good government groups are denouncing him for his abandonment of pledges to not to take lobbyist money.
Obama ran on a pledge that assured voters that he would curtail the influence of lobbyists by refusing to take their money. As the New York Times discusses below, he has circumvented that promise by taking huge sums from lobbyists as “bundlers.”
The newspaper identifies 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.”
By using people who do not have to register as lobbyists but still engage in obvious lobbyist activities, the Administration has avoided the rule to keep the money flowing.
Public Citizen and other respected groups have condemned the practice and flagged how “the president is still relying on wealthy special interests and embracing those people in his campaign.” This includes people like Sally Susman, an executive at the drug-maker Pfizer, who has raised massive amounts of money for Obama while leading Pfizer’s all-powerful lobbying shop. Obama’s White House gutted the original health care legislation of provisions that would have allowed for cheaper prescription drugs after a meeting with Billy Tauzin, the top lobbyist and former member of Congress who has been accused of selling out to the industry. Even still, drug companies pushed him out after allegations that he promised too much support when he bargained with the President to give him the political support of the industry for changes in the law.
While the President’s campaign has kept one pledge to keep lobbyists out of campaign fundraisers with the President, the article details how the same individuals are often used as bundlers or invite to events immediately after the President’s appearance.
The Administration, once self-described as committed to transparency, has refused to answer question from the New York Times and other news outlets. Recent scandals have involved allegations of powerful democratic donors and lobbyists leveraging their influence in the Administration.
Of course, the Republicans have not even offered the pretense of separation from lobbyists, but they have not claimed the higher moral grounds — where President Obama has.
Source: NY Times