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Lobbyists Playing Bigger Role in Presidential Fundraising

The number of lobbyists raising money for the 2008 presidential candidates already has eclipsed the total for the entire 2004 campaign, according to a Public Citizen study released today.

So far, candidates still in the race have recruited 142 federal lobbyists to raise money for their campaigns, compared to 136 lobbyist fundraisers in 2004.

A clearinghouse of the 2008 presidential candidates’ big fundraisers is available at www.WhiteHouseforSale.org.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has 59 lobbyist-bundlers raising money for him, almost twice as many as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has the second-highest number. Among Democrats, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has garnered the most support from lobbyists, 20, a predictable outcome because her two main remaining competitors have eschewed support from individuals currently serving as lobbyists.

The roster of known lobbyist-bundlers for McCain grew substantially on Monday, when his campaign held a fundraiser at a tony Washington steakhouse. Among 29 co-chairs listed on an invitation for the event were 24 registered lobbyists. Lists of the lobbyists raising money for each candidate are included in the study’s appendix.

Download the Public Citizen study [pdf].

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John Wallace

IN THE NEXT ELECTION, WILL THE AMERICAN PUBLIC BE THE LOSERS AGAIN?

Regardless of who wins in the upcoming national elections, Special Interest and Big Money Donors will be the winners again and the American public will be the losers. Why do you think special interest groups and corporate executives contribute large sums of money to the political campaigns of candidates from both major parties? We all know the answer to that question. They want and expect “their politicians” to somehow look out for the interests of the group that provided the money. In America today, we are living under a political system that not only allows, but encourages and condones the legalized bribery of candidates for the presidency and congress. To the Special Interest and Big Money donors, it doesn’t matter who wins the election because they contribute to the campaigns of the candidates of both major parties. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, the Special Interest and Big Money donors are always the winners.

The reality of political life in America today is that politicians are being bribed every day by special interest groups that want them to look out for their interests, which are not necessarily compatible with the best interests of the American people. Money given to candidates for federal office by Political Action Committees, industry lobbyists, labor unions and other special interest groups is nothing more than "legalized bribery."

As public servants, candidates for federal offices should not be taking money from these organizations to influence the decisions they will make during the course of performing their official duties. If a policeman takes a thousand dollar bribe from a drug dealer to help him out in some way, he would be committing the crime of Bribery. Why then is it legal for a presidential or congressional candidate to take a thousand dollar bribe (I mean campaign contribution) from some special interest group to help them out in some way.

There is another practice that is perfectly legal, but equally as objectionable as receiving money from Political Action Committees and Special Interest Groups. It’s called “Bundling.” Bundling is the practice of pooling together a large number of contributions from individuals (or PACs) in order to maximize the influence of the bundler and the interests they represent. Most often, a bundler is a corporate executive or lobbyist, who raises substantial sums of money for specific candidates with the expectation of getting something in return.

Here’s is an example of how a corporate bundler might operate:

Let’s say the Chairman of a big Wall Street firm invites a candidate to give a 15 or 20 minute speech at a luncheon before a hundred or so of the firm’s top executives. At the end of the speech, the Chairman presents the candidate with a bundle of $2,300 checks from those executives and the candidate walks away with almost a quarter of a million dollar bribe (I mean contribution). Although this practice is perfectly legal, whose interest will the candidate really be looking out for if he’s elected?

Here are some actual figures of Bundled Special Interest money from Wall Street firms (Top Four Donors) flowing into the campaigns of the leading presidential candidates that can be found on the http://www.opensecrects.org/ website:

Senator Clinton: Goldman Sachs: $490,000, Morgan Stanley: $426,000, Citigroup: $353,000, Merrill Lynch: $161,000.

Senator Obama: Goldman Sachs: $474,000, J.P. Morgan: $280,000, Lehman Brothers: $275,000, Morgan Stanley: $190,000.

Senator McCain: Merrill Lynch: $177,000, Citigroup: $161,000, Goldman Sachs: $104,000, J.P. Morgan: $75,000.

No matter how you say it, Special Interest dollars and Bundled Contributions can buy votes, elections and possibly even buy positions within the government. For example: the current Secretary of the Treasury, Henry M. Paulson, Jr. was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs before he became the 74th Secretary of the Treasury on June 19, 2006. Did the large amount of money received from Goldman Sachs executives have something to do with it?

I will support any legislation that defines the receipt of any special interest money by candidates for federal office as Bribery and therefore illegal. I will also support the continued reporting by the Federal Election Commission of the names of the employers of people making donations of $200 or more. This way, the American voters can see where the candidates’ money is actually coming from, including those organizations that are bundling their contributions to candidates with the hopes of getting something in return.

Our elected officials should be more concerned about doing what is in the best interest of American people, rather than doing what is in the best interests of their big money and special interest donors. Eliminating special interest money will be an important first step.

For additional information, contact:

JOHN W. WALLACE
Candidate for Congress
Tel: 518-392-7062Email: john@voteforwallace.com

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