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A lobbyist by any other name would still smell like a lobbyist

By A. James Memmott

September 18, 2008 at 11:02am

One solution to Sen. John McCain’s perceived problem with lobbyists? Call them something else.

An examination of the McCain campaign’s list of bundlers - fundraisers who have gathered at least $50,000 in contributions - reveals only two people whose occupation is listed as “lobbyist.”

Nonetheless, WhiteHouseForSale.org, a website published by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, has determined that at least 76 of McCain’s bundlers are lobbyists.

But on the McCain list nearly all of these lobbyists are lobbyists by another name.

Many are described as consultants; some are identified by their title.

The only “lobbyists” to be found are Mary E. McAuliffe, a lobbyist for Union Pacific, and David G. Walden of Houston, who is self-employed as a lobbyist.

Regardless, the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, has made much of McCain’s links to lobbyists, increasingly describing the Republican as captive to “special interests.”

The Democrats aren’t pure on this issue themselves, though they have far fewer lobbyists amongst their bundlers than does the McCain campaign.

Fifteen of Obama’s 594 bundlers are or have been lobbyists, according to White House for Sale.

At least three of McCain’s mega-bundlers - those who have collected more than $500,000 - are lobbyists.

One, Judy Black, is in governmental relations for the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. She’s also the wife of Charles R. Black Jr., a former Washington lobbyist who is now the chief political adviser to the McCain campaign.

Wayne L. Berman, another major fundraiser, is managing director of Ogilvy Government Relations.

And Thomas G. Loeffler heads the Loeffler Group, a lobbying firm. The former Texas congressman had been a co-chairman of the McCain campaign as well as co-chair of the McCain’s national finance committee.

He left in May after the campaign adopted a policy that prohibited registered lobbyists from working on the campaign. The policy did not prohibit lobbyists from raising money for the campaign.

Five Obama bundlers who are or have been lobbyists have raised more than $500,000 each.

Four of the five are lawyers. They are: Howard W. Gutman of Williams & Connelly LLP; Scott B. Harris of Harris Wiltshire & Grannis LLP; Allan J. Katz of Akerman Senterfitt and Thomas J. Perrelli of Jenner & Block LLP.

The fifth half-million-dollar bundler for Obama is Alan Solomont, chairman and CEO of Solomont Bailis Ventures, a Massachusetts nursing home group.

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