Will Media Examine Barack Obama’s Connection to Jack Abramoff?
If one of the major presidential candidates made a campaign pledge not to take money from lobbyists, would it be newsworthy if founding members of the law firm Jack Abramoff used to work for were contributing to his or her campaign?
Apparently not if the candidate is a Democrat.
According to the liberal website Raw Story, and confirmed by examining Federal Election Committee records, top brass at Greenberg Traurig, the law firm convicted lobbyist Abramoff worked for between 2001 and 2004, have given thousands of dollars to Barack Obama's campaign (emphasis added):
Richard Edlin, a registered Greenberg Traurig lobbyist with SPI Spirits, gave the senator $1,500 in the 4th Quarter of 2007. While Edlin was not a member of Abramoff's team, he was implicated in one of the convicted lobbyists' money laundering schemes, according to a June 2006 report in The Hill. However, as the article points out, "It is unclear...whether Edlin knew the true purpose," of the phony donation he was asked to process, and Edlin was not charged with any wrongdoing.
While Obama has not received as much as Clinton did from Greenberg Traurig lobbyists, the firm's top executives, who made the decisions to initially hire and eventually fire Abramoff, have given heavily to the Illinois Democrat. Firm founders Larry Hoffman and Robert Traurig, along with current executive director Cesar Alvarez were all included in $14,500 from the firm's executive leadership to Obama.
Doesn't this seem a tad odd for a candidate who proudly claims at his website (emphasis added):
"I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists - and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president."
Coincidentally, the Columbia Journalism Review recognized some of Obama's lobby hypocrisies last Friday, although nothing related to Greenberg Traurig (emphasis added):
Contributions made by the various industry sectors tell the real story in a presidential race. And Opensecrets.org shows that Obama is picking up gobs of money put on the table by these special interests-including those involved in health care, which will surely have a lot riding on the outcome of the election and will expect to be heard after the election is over.
Consider the sector called lawyers and law firms. Clearly, lawyers and law firms lobby on behalf of their own interests-like fighting malpractice reform, which could again surface as a thorny issue for the new administration. Clinton and Obama have raised similar amounts from lawyers and law firms-$11.8 and $9.5 million. McCain and Huckabee have taken far less. The health sector has also given to Obama, Clinton, and McCain. In the pharmaceutical and health product industries, contributions to Clinton total $349,000 and $338,000 to Obama. Again, McCain trails in donations at about $98,000, an indication that the sector sees the real action on the Democratic side of the ballot. Health professionals, which include doctors, nurses, and dentists, have given Clinton some $2.3 million and Obama $1.7 million.
Fascinating, wouldn't you agree? Yet, the final paragraph, and, in particular, the concluding sentence of this piece revealed the real hypocrisy:
Last August The Boston Globe, in a piece by Scott Helman, took a hard look at Obama's contributions, noting that "behind Obama's campaign rhetoric about taking on special interests lies a more complicated truth." That truth revealed that as a state legislator in Illinois, a U.S. senator, and as a presidential aspirant, Obama had collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and PACs. Helman quoted an Obama campaign spokeswoman saying that after he experienced firsthand the influence of Washington lobbyists, he was taking a different approach to fundraising than he had in the past, and that "his leadership position on this issue is an evolving process." If Obama's leadership on campaign financing is indeed evolving, more news outlets should be following the evolution.
I couldn't agree more.
On the flipside, as Raw Story reported -- and confirmed by FEC records -- Hillary Clinton has also taken money from the good folks at Greenberg Traurig.
I'm sure media members will also be reporting this with great dispatch.