In the Hillary Clinton Era, Democrats Welcome Lobbying Money Back Into the Convention
Debbie Wasserman Schulz actively recruited lobbyists to join the DNC, and Hillary Clinton’s praise and support of DWS indicates Clinton’s own predilections: a very accommodating attitude toward lobbyists (cf. her speaking fees that she personally accepted from Goldman Sachs). This is one big drawback to Clinton: business as usual with respect to lobbyists, Wall Street, and big corporations.
Just to be clear: Clinton is worlds better than Trump, but she is totally a part of the system and is way too accommodating to special interests. She has feathered her nest, so she doesn’t see anything wrong with nest-feathering. I support her in this election, but I do not for one minute think she has a progressive outlook.
Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons report for The Intercept:
By quietly dropping a ban on direct donations from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees, the Democratic National Committee in February reopened the floodgates for corruption that Barack Obama had put in place in 2008. [This was Debbie Wasserman Schulz’s doing. – LG]
Secret donors with major public-policy agendas were welcomed back in from the cold and showered with access and appreciation at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
Major donors were offered “Family and Friends” packages, including suites at the Ritz-Carlton, backstage passes, and even seats in the Clinton family box. Corporate lobbyists like Heather Podesta celebrated the change, telling Time: “My money is now good.”
What was going on inside the convention hall was also reflected outside, at costly events sponsored by the fossil fuel industry, technology companies, for-profit colleges, pharmaceutical companies, and railway companies, to name a few.
Craig Holman, an elections financing expert at Public Citizen, said that the end of the lobbyist contribution ban as well as Congress’s 2014 terminationof all remaining public financing of the party conventions has served to undermine democracy. “The implications of these changes are that we have opened up access to the parties and the conventions to just the very, very wealthy,” he said.
He pointed out that Congress originally passed the law to publicly finance presidential conventions after a 1972 scandal where President Richard Nixon terminated an anti-trust investigation eight days after the telecommunications company ITT donated heavily to that year’s Republican convention.
For the more than 1,900 Bernie Sanders delegates at the convention, the dependence on high-roller lobbyists was particularly galling. Sanders’s campaign was built on a simple promise: he would shun big-ticket fundraisers and corporate lobbyists in favor of a legion of small donors. And it worked. By the end of April 2016, Sanders’s campaign was actually raising more money than Clinton’s, which was welcoming support from corporate lobbyists and bundlers.
But an overwhelming majority of Democratic lawmakers we spoke to at the convention didn’t seem troubled by the rule change at all.
At a posh event hosted by The Atlantic and paid for by the American Petroleum Institute oil lobby, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, shrugged off concerns about the influence of special interest groups.
“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the DNC on that,” he said in response to a question whether lifting the ban was the right move.
“Do you think that lobbyists have undue influence?” we followed up.
“I don’t know.”
“What about energy lobbyists? What about oil lobbyists?”
“What about ’em?”
“Do you think they have undue influence in the United States?”
“I think they’re just like teachers, like firemen, like everybody who contributes.”
“What about the Koch Brothers, who spent $400 million on an election?”
“You’ve gotta go talk to the Koch Brothers,” he replied, ending the conversation.
Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a Willie Sutton justification for lifting the lobbying ban. “The lobbyists, that’s where the money is,” he said.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made . . .
This selling out the Federal government is exactly what Bernie Sanders was running against. Hillary Clinton thinks it’s just fine. (She, after all, was happy to accept money personally from the likes of Goldman Sachs.)