“Obama will not take money from registered lobbyists like me, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t take money from people who are lobbying…”
— An unnamed Democratic lobbyist talking to the New York Times about President Obama’s reliance on unregistered Washington influence peddlers to fund his campaign.
One of the places where Barack Obama scored big points on John McCain in 2008 was in casting himself as a squeaky-clean outsider and McCain as a Washington swamp-dweller surrounded by lobbyists.
“They will not work in my White House,” Obama often intoned of lobbyists. But, over time, dozens of former lobbyists came to work for the administration. As Washington Examiner lobbyist lacerator Tim Carney observed, this prompted Obama to adopt a new phrasing of the old pledge: “We’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs.”
What Obama meant was that he had turned away many lobbyists, but that becomes clear only after parsing the phrase. He didn’t say “all” or “every,” so the statement was technically true, if very misleading.
And so it is with Obama fundraising. The Obama campaign has long touted the fact that registered lobbyists are not permitted to give money to the campaign or bring their besmirching presence to any of the commander in chief’s frequent fundraisers.
The campaign, though, has long had a work around for these folks.