Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Candidates and the Lobbyists

The word lobbyist has become rather dirty in the public mind after DeLay and Abromoff got done with it, and in many respects it deserves that approbation. There is a lot of dirt floating about. There are also other aspects of lobbying that are getting buried in the dirt.

I have varied interests as my readers may have noticed, and though some are not political in practice, they of political interest. Others are directly political. These interests cannot be represented by me alone; I simply do not have the reach. I do some reaching out with this blog I work within DPO to try to see some interests are included, and I have used the candidate forum as a stage; but none of these give me direct access to policy makers nor the clout of being able to point to a large interested group. Simply the ability to point to a large interest segment is of value, but beyond that are the skill sets involved in person to person persuasion and understanding of the politician's political considerations. These varied skill sets are not easily obtained in the ordinary workplace; this type of schooling is obtained by being near that action. Professionalism in lobbying is scarcely a sin; it is a requirement.

As usual, in something like politics there is a caveat, while professionalism is a requirement, there is the who employed the professional when they are working in a political campaign. This actually matters, their expertise is developed in fairly narrow areas and their influence can be narrowed by the 'who' they know. Just as framing carpenters and finish carpenters are both carpenters; they are not the same jobs. A lobbyist's area of experience may well say something about the agenda of a campaign. Some of the candidates have registered lobbyists, either on leave or currently employed, working for them as aides.

The Hill took note of some of the aides/lobbyists. Hillary Clinton's campaign employees Rachel Kelly, a lobbyist on leave from Great American Insurance Company and her finance director Jonathan Mintz, registered in '05 with the Podesta Group. Obama's campaign has Teal Baker, on leave from Podesta and Brandon Hurlbut on leave from B&D Consulting. John Edwards has Adam Jentleson formerly of the Center for American Progress and Matthew Morrison formerly from American Federation of Teachers.

Over at Mitt's campaign Barbara Comstock, a partner at Corallo Comstock, continues to lobby because she is a consultant to the campaign rather than an employee. (cough)

In '06 the primary sources of the Podesta Group's income were the medical industry, defense, investment and media. B&D Consulting's income is a very mixed bag but primarily medical, education, and local government. Corallo Comstock's primary income has been Hearst Corp.

The emphasis of these campaign's is reflected in the interests of some of these aides: health, education, labor. What gets interesting is 'who are the players at the table.' The links will take you to Open Secrets' table of lobbying organizations and the groups and their expenditures. The Clinton campaign is real heavy on the industrial aspect of medicine and the insurance side. Investment groups are a huge benefactor of insurance companies' capital; insurance companies are actually investment groups using your premiums as their investment source. The linkage between insurance and investment cannot be overstated.

The Podesta Group's 2006 lobbying income is listed at $12.2 million and as Tony Podesta told The Hill:

“I talk to them all time,” said Tony Podesta, who as the head of Podesta Group worked with Baker and Mantz. “Either one of them is welcome to return.
*****
Podesta downplayed the potential benefit to his firm if Clinton or Obama win the presidency and his former colleagues land influential positions.

“If Teal works in the White House, I’ll know someone on staff,” he said. “But it’s not like this would be a special point of access. I’m pleased and proud [the campaigns] recruited someone from here."

Perhaps...meanwhile, who has the candidates' ears?

1 comment:

KISS said...

I make no bones of my bias of Dimmo's who feign the hypocrisy of honesty and bewilderment over shenanigan's of the those that are lobbying controlled. Yup, repugs are worst of the lot.
Merkley is well with in my sights as a lying SOB for his hypocritical lobbying bill which is bogus in it's nature and power. Yes, it hurts the little guys that are just trying to get to the politicos and are not paid professionals.
This is from Wednesday Dec. 19th Willamette Week:
"So, while the new law means a lobbyist may only buy a lawmaker $50 worth of food and drinks annually and may not “entertain” the lawmaker at all, the lobbyist can write the lawmaker as many checks as the lawmaker can deposit.
“The SB 10 limits are practically meaningless and allow all public officeholders to receive unlimited money in campaign contributions—even if they never intend to run for office again,” says campaign reform advocate Dan Meek. “The money can be used to pay for lavish vacations, Blazer tickets or even an apartment in Salem.” "
So campaign funds are well and safe from scunity and honesty. Thank You, Mr. Merkely for nothing.