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McCain/Clinton: Lobbyist Lapdogs


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Clinton gets the most money, Maverick McCain has the most advisors . . .

Clinton Gets Most Lobbyist Money, McCain Most Help

Jonathan D. SalantMon Feb 4, 1:29 PM ET

Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Democrat Hillary Clinton has raised more money from lobbyists than any other presidential candidate while Republican John McCain has more of them assisting his campaign.

Clinton took in $823,087 from registered lobbyists and members of their firms in 2007 and the second-biggest recipient was McCain, who took in $416,321, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group which tracks political giving. Barack Obama, Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination, doesn't take money from registered lobbyists, although he received $86,282 from employees of firms that lobby, according to the center.

McCain has 26 registered lobbyists as campaign advisers or fundraisers compared with 11 for Clinton and none for Obama, according to review of records compiled by Public Citizen, a Washington-based group that favors stronger disclosure laws for lobbyists.

Even as they pledge to rein in special interests, the leading Democratic and Republican candidates are relying on lobbyists to bring in campaign cash by raising money from other donors, a technique known as bundling.

``These bundlers and advisers are central to the financial success of top presidential candidates,'' said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. ``As such, they will essentially carry with them an IOU from the campaign.''

Lobbyist Bundlers

Clinton's total from lobbyists is a fraction of what they raise on her behalf; her campaign doesn't disclose which donations are brought in by lobbyist bundlers.

Heather Podesta, a Washington lobbyist, donated $4,600 to Clinton, FEC records show. She's raised more than $250,000 for Clinton by tapping her network of contacts and holding fundraisers.

``Most of my attention is focused on raising money and new supporters,'' Podesta, sister-in-law to President Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff John Podesta, said in an interview. ``That's the best way for me to make a contribution.''

Like Podesta, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Steve Ricchetti has also signed on to be a so-called Hillraiser. Ricchetti's firm was paid $1.7 million during the first six months of 2007 to lobby on behalf of Amgen Inc. and Sirius Satellite Radio, among others.

Won't Be Swayed

New York Senator Clinton, 60, said during a Jan. 21 debate that she won't be swayed by her support from lobbyists, saying she has ``withstood the full force of corporate lobbyists'' during her failed 1993 attempt at passing universal health care legislation as first lady and during her Senate career.

``I think I'm independent and tough enough to be able to deal with anybody,'' Clinton said.

McCain, 71, an Arizona Republican who led the successful 2002 effort to ban corporate and union donations to the political parties, counts as campaign co-chairman former Representative Tom Loeffler of Texas. Loeffler now runs his own lobbying firm, which was paid $2.5 million by such clients as AT&T Inc. and Southwest Airlines.

Last week, former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, vice chairman of UBS Securities LLC who is registered to lobby for the bank, campaigned in Georgia for McCain.

On the campaign trail, McCain stresses his anti-lobbyist bona fides.

`Special Interests'

``I upset the special interests and Washington lobbyists when I fought for ethics reform and to stop union bosses and corporations from writing million-dollar checks to political campaigns,'' he said in New Hampshire in November.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, 60, has contrasted his experience running a business and a state government with McCain's tenure in Washington, and has vowed to rein in the influence of lobbyists.

Like former President Ronald Reagan, ``I'd go to Washington as an outsider -- not owing favors, not lobbyists on every elbow,'' Romney said at a Jan. 30 debate.

And Romney, too, has registered lobbyists in campaign posts.

Former U.S. Representative Vin Weber, whose firm was paid $3.6 million by such clients as EBay Inc. and General Dynamics Corp., is Romney's policy chairman. Other advisers include Ron Kaufman, chairman of Washington-based Dutko Worldwide, which was paid $11.2 million by such companies as Allstate Corp. and Target Corp.

`Extra-Curricular Activities'

``Among my many extra-curricular activities, I love public policy,'' Weber said. ``I try to be helpful to candidates.''

One campaign co-chairman for Illinois Senator Obama, 46, is former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a policy adviser at Alston & Bird LLP. The firm was paid $4.1 million by companies such as Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Healthsouth Corp.

Daschle isn't a registered lobbyist, yet has clout. ``Some of the most powerful people in Washington's influence industry aren't registered to lobby,'' Krumholz said.

And while Obama doesn't accept lobbyists' money, he raised the $86,282 in cash from employees of firms whose business centers on lobbying. He takes in even more money from employees of law firms which also engage in lobbying, including $226,491 from those working for Sidley Austin LLP, his old law firm, which was paid $3.1 million to lobby by clients such as Caterpillar Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc.

For the lobbyists, the return comes if their candidate wins, said Mary Boyle, a spokeswoman for Washington-based Common Cause, which supports stronger lobbying laws.

``They certainly would get access and influence if and when he or she become the next president,'' Boyle said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net .

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