Dem Senator Who Decried ‘Revolving Door’ Poses With Lobbyists Who Donated To Her Campaign

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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Democratic Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who has frequently criticized the so-called “revolving door” between the federal government and K Street, was pictured with a group of lobbyists in late April — many of whom have donated to her campaign.

Baldwin posed with the lobbyists in a photo posted to Instagram on April 29 by Jenkins Hill Society (JHS), a women’s fundraising network for vulnerable Democratic female members. Additionally, several of the lobbyists pictured with Baldwin have contributed to the senator’s campaign, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data, and were previously employed by Democratic lawmakers.

“JHS ladies [heart] Sen. Tammy Baldwin!,” the caption reads. (RELATED: Lobbyists Love These Swing State Democrats)

Though Baldwin has made several statements decrying the influence of special interests and “Wall Street” on American politics, the picture indicates her closeness and familiarity with the lobbying world. Moreover, many of the lobbyists with whom Baldwin posed represent massive corporations and trade associations.

For instance, Karissa Willhite is a registered lobbyist for Ogilvy Government Relations (OBR), and gave Baldwin’s campaign $1,500 between June and October 2023, as well as a $1,000 donation in 2017, FEC filings show. Willhite previously worked for Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and has represented the likes of Wells Fargo and the American Bankers Association.

Another OGR lobbyist, Alissa Clees, contributed $500 to the senator’s reelection bid in May 2023, according to FEC data. The lobbyist is a former staffer of then-Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Clees has represented Nike and Fedex.

Kim Corbin, who recently switched from lobbying under Pioneer Public Affairs to her own firm, Corbin Strategies, also gave Baldwin’s campaign $500 in May 2023, FEC filings show. Corbin used to work for Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

Philips lobbyist and former Baldwin staffer Elizabeth Pika Sharp has given $6,300 to Baldwin’s bids, joint fundraising committee and leadership PAC from 2009 to 2017, according to FEC data. Pika Sharp has been lobbying in the medical device industry since leaving Baldwin’s office in 2008.

Additionally, 24 of Baldwin’s staffers have come from or gone into the lobbying industry, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in December 2023.

Baldwin was also pictured with lobbyists Jordan LaCrosse of Avenue Solutions and Kasia Witkowski of Amazon. LaCrosse previously worked for Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz of Florida and in the U.S. Treasury Department, while Witkowski served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Yet for years, Baldwin has decried lobbyists’ connections with government officials.

For instance, Baldwin wrote an op-ed in The Huffington Post with Hillary Clinton advocating for the senator’s then-recently introduced legislation to help close the “revolving door between government and the private sector.” The Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act would increase the waiting period between when a financial services regulator’s employment with the federal government ends and when he or she could lobby.

“The private sector shouldn’t be allowed to ‘pay to play’ with their former employees,” the authors wrote. “If you’re working for the government, you’re working for the people — not for an oil company, drug company, or Wall Street bank or money manager.”

Baldwin re-upped the legislation in 2019, emphasizing her desire to “stop the revolving door and make sure that government officials are working on behalf of the public interest and our common good, not powerful special interests.”


Baldwin will likely face off in the November general election with Republican businessman Eric Hovde, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump on April 2. The senator has held her seat since 2013, and was reelected in 2018 by a double-digit margin.

An Emerson College poll released on April 30 found Baldwin leading Hovde by only three points for a head-to-head matchup, with 11% of registered voters remaining undecided. The same survey showed Trump ahead of President Joe Biden 47% to 45%, and 8% were not sure of their choice.

The Cook Political Report currently characterizes the race as in the “Lean D” column for 2024, along with an open seat in Michigan and Democratic Sen. Bob Casey’s seat in Pennsylvania.

Baldwin’s campaign, Pika Sharp, Willhite, Clees, Corbin, LaCrosse and Witkowski did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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