Public Interest Groups Denounce Obama For Violating Lobbyist Money Pledge

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

37 thoughts on “Public Interest Groups Denounce Obama For Violating Lobbyist Money Pledge”

  1. Jill, Sadly at this point in time a vote for a third party candidate is a lost vote. Nader proved that. Right now hopefully OWS will continue to swell and the politicos will finally start listening to them and not merely party and ideology, and the only reason to run is to stop Obama kind of voting behavior. (Problem though is OWS MUST get their act together and have a cohesive message. I believe they do, citizens united against corporate greed that helps expand the division of wealth between the 99 and 1%, and of course undoing citizens united and a politicized court that has made the election process a farce. It must be working because riot police stand against unarmed Americans who do more than protest and maybe refuse to move (very, very few have done more than that) and gas and pepper spray them abd Bloomberg who said they could stay took away their heat sources the night beofre the noreaster was espected – that sounds to me like fear of the 99% and OWS so maybe it is doing good.)

  2. Swarthmore mom-

    The lesser of two evils is evil. Don’t settle for evil. There are other options. We don’t have to re-elect Barack Obama. The election is not next Tuesday. Occupy Wall Street is in the news every day. Obama still doesn’t “get it”. I suspect the next President will be someone who does “get it”. 99% can defeat 1%. They have more money. We have more votes. As long as that condition exists we are not defeated.

  3. Noah V,

    First off it is we as citizens who must rescue our country. We need to become strong people with intellectual and ethical integrity. That is the necessary first step from which all other actions flow. Without those qualities, we will allow war and financial criminals to rule this nation.

    Elections are important because we must tell those who are war and financial criminals (Obama) and would-be war and financial criminals (openly Republican candidates), that we, the people of the US, will not tolerate people like that in any political office or other position of power.

    To vote for a war and financial criminal is to give consent to this behavior. We must stop giving consent to atrocities. But withdraw of consent is only a first step. We must organize around new structures that we create specifically to bring about the goals we seek for our nation.

    I believe most people want a very different nation than the one the military/financial/corporate entities have created for us. OWS is interesting in that they are creating social structures that meet people’s needs. They are forming libraries, educational groups, medical care, food/shelter, and next up, a bank that will serve the people instead of itself.

    While it is lying to say that everything is going along just fine, people are in the middle of an experiment with organizing society for each other instead of for enriching the few at the expense of the many. They are trying for a society without war. That’s an amazing and wonderful thing to participate in.

    So I would see people doing things along this line. We have to create the society we want. Unless you want more war, lawlessness and cruelty, that will definitely exclude voting for people who will and have brought these things into the world. Importantly, we need to build the structures of a good society. It starts with a population who has integrity and wants the best for each other. After that, it’s going to be an experiment where things can go really wrong, and some things are going to go really right.

  4. Wall Street is Still Out of Control, and Why Obama Should Call for Glass-Steagall and a Breakup of Big Banks
    Robert Reich
    TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2011

    Next week President Obama travels to Wall Street where he’ll demand – in light of the Street’s continuing antics since the bailout, as well as its role in watering-down the Volcker rule – that the Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected and big banks be broken up.

    I’m kidding. But it would be a smart move — politically and economically.

    Politically smart because Mitt Romney is almost sure to be the Republican nominee, and Romney is the poster child for the pump-and-dump mentality that’s infected the financial industry and continues to jeopardize the American economy.

    Romney was CEO of Bain & Company – a private-equity fund that bought up companies, fired employees to save money and boost performance, and then resold the firms at a nice markups.

    Romney also epitomizes the pump-and-dump culture of America’s super rich. To take one example, he recently purchased a $3 million mansion in La Jolla, California (in addition to his other homes) that he’s razing in order build a brand new one.

    What better way for Obama to distinguish himself from Romney than to condemn Wall Street’s antics since the bailout, and call for real reform?

    Economically it would be smart for Obama to go after the Street right now because the Street’s lobbying muscle has reduced the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to a pale reflection of its former self. Dodd-Frank is rife with so many loopholes and exemptions that the largest Wall Street banks – larger by far than they were before the bailout – are back to many of their old tricks.

    It’s impossible to know, for example, the exposure of the Street to European banks in danger of going under. To stay afloat, Europe’s banks will be forced to sell mountains of assets – among them, derivatives originating on the Street – and may have to reneg on or delay some repayments on loans from Wall Street banks.

    The Street says it’s not worried because these assets are insured. But remember AIG? The fact Morgan Stanley and other big U.S. banks are taking a beating in the market suggests investors don’t believe the Street. This itself proves financial reform hasn’t gone far enough.

    If you want more evidence, consider the fancy footwork by Bank of America in recent days. Hit by a credit downgrade last month, BofA just moved its riskiest derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a retail subsidiary flush with insured deposits. That unit has a higher credit rating because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (that is, you and me and other taxpayers) are backing the deposits. Result: BofA improves its bottom line at the expense of American taxpayers.

    Wasn’t this supposed to be illegal? Keeping risky assets away from insured deposits had been a key principle of U.S. regulation for decades before the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

    The so-called “Volcker rule” was supposed to remedy that. But under pressure of Wall Street’s lobbyists, the rule – as officially proposed last week – has morphed into almost 300 pages of regulatory mumbo-jumbo, riddled with exemptions and loopholes.

  5. “Frankly

    The problem we as Americans have is that no matter how bad Obama may act he is still much much better than the alternatives.”

    So we all agree he needs a Walter Mondale moment except this would be about lobbyist money and not about raising our taxes.

  6. The problem we as Americans have is that no matter how bad Obama may act he is still much much better than the alternatives.

    There is not a single Republican candidate capable of doing what is best for the country & all except Huntsman want to do much worse for the country.

    As for third party candidates there are two problems: They are ego problems like Nader who would always put themselves first & who have no idea how to lead a diverse country when they are used to commanding underlings, and who would help them in Congress? Certainly not the Republicans who have allowed the country to suffer more simply to make Obama look bad and damn few Democrats would be interested either.

  7. “The problems this nation face will not be solved by electing Obama or an openly Republican candidate. Things will change only when citizens become consistent in their ethics (if wrong under Bush, actions are wrong under Obama). Only with consistent ethics as a base for acting can the, people organize for justice. That would not mean organizing to elect any current Republican or Democratic candidate.”

    I am not arguing with you at all, but expand on how we accomplish this.

    Voting for 3rd party candidates seems a wasted vote until their are viable third parties.

  8. O-Bomb-a is what is always has been: A smooth-talking, two-faced, lying huckster. How anyone could be surprised over this is puzzling.

  9. President Barack Obama goes into the 2012 with a weak economy that may doom his reelection. But he has one asset that hasn’t received much attention: He’s honest.


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