Obama Actively Supports Super PAC That Takes Special Interest And Lobbyist Money

Candidate Obama: “We Will Not Take A Dime From Washington Lobbyists Or Special Interest PACs - We’re Going To Change How Washington Works. They Will Not Fund My Party …” (Sunlen Miller, “Obama Commends DNC For Cutting Lobbyist Contributions,” ABC News' “Political Radar” Blog, 6/5/08)

OBAMA GIVES SUPER PAC HIS BLESSING

Obama’s Re-Election Campaign Reversed Its Position On Super PACs, “Encouraging Donors To Send Their Unlimited Contributions” To Pro-Obama Priorities USA PAC. “President Obama’s re-election campaign made an about-face late Monday in its opposition to super PACs, encouraging donors to send their unlimited contributions to one such group founded by a former administration spokesman. Obama campaign manager Jim Messina emailed supporters to formally endorse contributions to Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC founded by Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press secretary.” (Michael O’Brien, “Obama Campaign Reverses Stance, Urging Donations To Super PAC, NBC News’ "First Read", 2/7/12)

Obama’s Decision Marks A “Stark Reversal” From A President Who Has Been Among The “Most Vocal Critics” Of Super PACs To One Who Is Embracing Them. “The decision represents a stark reversal for Obama, who has been among the most vocal critics of these outside political spending groups since the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling that paved the way for the rise of super PACs.” (Michael O’Brien, “Obama Campaign Reverses Stance, Urging Donations To Super PAC, NBC News’ "First Read", 2/7/12)

Politifact: Obama’s Embrace Of Super PACs Is A “Full Flop.” “In this case, Obama and his campaign have gone from refusing to fundraise for super PACs to declaring that senior officials will attend and speak at Priorities USA fundraising events. We respect that the president himself won’t participate, and that he still plans to fight the role of special interest money in campaigns, but that’s a major reversal of position, and we rate it a Full Flop.” (“Obama Campaign Says Officials Will Now Appear At Super PAC Fundraisers,” Tampa Bay Times’ “Politifact,” 2/6/12)

OBAMA’S REVERSAL EQUATES TO THE FORMAL EMBRACE OF LOBBYIST MONEY

ABC News : “Obama To Benefit From ‘Special Interests’ Via Super PAC.” (Devin Dwyer, “Obama To Benefit From ‘Special Interests’ Via Super PAC,” ABC News, 2/7/12)

CNN’s Jessica Yellin: “The Super PAC Will Take Money From Lobbyists, Even Corporations.” YELLIN: “I mean, the campaign won’t take money from lobbyist, still they say, but the super PAC will take money from lobbyists, from even corporations. They can take unlimited amounts of money from any kind of organization, as long as it’s a U.S. organization. And the new policy means that now cabinet members, staff in the White House, and senior campaign officials can attend events for these super PACs to send out the message they won’t explicitly fund raise, but top campaign fund-raisers believe that they were given a message that they should now get their donors to contribute to the super PAC after they’ve gotten their donors to give to the campaign, Brooke.” (CNN’s “Newsroom,” 2/7/12)

Obama’s Shift On Super PACs “Opens The Door To Donations by Lobbyists To Support His Re-Election.” “President Obama’s decision to back unlimited donations to a Democratic outside group reverses his opposition to super PACs and opens the door to donations by lobbyists to support his re-election. Obama has made refusing money from federal lobbyists a bedrock principle of his political campaigns.”(Fredreka Schouten, “Obama Urges Donations to Super PAC Backing Him,” USA Today, 2/7/12)

  • Team Obama Says They Cannot Control Whether The Pro-Obama PAC Accepts Lobbyist Contributions, Even As It Sends White House Officials And Cabinet Members To Fundraising Events. “Officials with Obama’s campaign said they can’t control whether the PAC accepts future lobbyist contributions, even as White House officials and Cabinet members plan to appear at Priorities USA Action fundraising events.” (Fredreka Schouten, “Obama Urges Donations to Super PAC Backing Him,” USA Today, 2/7/12)
  • Obama Is “Relying On A Super PAC That Can Accept Money From Anyone,” Including Lobbyists And Special Interests. “In that campaign, he at least forswore money from independent groups and lobbyists. Now he is relying on a super PAC that can accept money from anyone.” (Editorial, “Another Campaign For Sale,” The New York Times, 2/7/12)

And Priorities USA Is Already Accepting Unlimited Donations From Lobbyists

Former Obama Officials Set Up A Super PAC That Is Accepting Lobbyists’ Contributions Towards Obama’s Reelection Effort. “Attention, Democratic lobbyists: You now have a way to give money to aid President Obama’s reelection effort. … Now a super PAC formed by two former Obama administration officials is working to further the Obama campaign and ready to accept your money.” (T.W. Farnam, “Obama Fundraising Targets Very Large, Very Small Donors,” The Washington Post , 8/3/11)

The Former Obama Officials Hold “No Objections To Using The Money To Help A President Who Spurns It.” “Priorities USA founder Bill Burton, who served as the national press secretary for Obama’s 2008 campaign, says the group has no objections to using the money to help a president who spurns it. ‘We decided we were going to play by the exact same rules as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers and not let them have any advantages in this election cycle,’ Burton said.” (T.W. Farnam, “Obama Fundraising Targets Very Large, Very Small Donors,” The Washington Post , 8/3/11)

"Last Year, Priorities Counted At Least Three Federal Lobbyists Among Its 60-Plus Contributors, Campaign-Finance Records Show." (Fredreka Schouten, “Obama Urges Donations to Super PAC Backing Him,” USA Today, 2/7/12)

BUT OBAMA HAS ALREADY IGNORED HIS LOBBYIST PLEDGE

Obama Is Ignoring His Pledge To Not Take Money From Lobbyists, Raising Millions From “Prominent Supporters Who Are Active In The Lobbying Industry.” “Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid.” (Eric Lichtblau, “Obama Backers Tied To Lobbies Raise Millions,” The New York Times, 10/27/11)

Obama Gets Around His Own Rule Because The Bundlers Are Not Registered With The Senate. “Because the bundlers are not registered as lobbyists with the Senate, the Obama campaign has managed to avoid running afoul of its self-imposed ban on taking money from lobbyists.” (Eric Lichtblau, “Obama Backers Tied To Lobbies Raise Millions,” The New York Times, 10/27/11)

  • “But Registered Or Not, The Bundlers Are In Many Ways Indistinguishable From People Who Fit The Technical Definition Of A Lobbyist.” (Eric Lichtblau, “Obama Backers Tied To Lobbies Raise Millions,”The New York Times, 10/27/11)

Obama’s Narrow Definition Of Lobbyists Has “Allowed His Re-Election Effort To Collect Millions Of Dollars From Bundlers Who, Though Not Registered Lobbyists, Are Active In The Influence Industry.” “Obama’s vow has drawn scrutiny because it relies on the relatively narrow definition of lobbyist laid out in the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act. That has allowed his re-election effort to collect millions of dollars from bundlers who, though not registered lobbyists, are active in the influence industry.” (Michael Beckel, “Obama Campaign Refunding Money Donated By Federal Lobbyists,” Open Secrets, 1/27/12)

Obama Permits Bundlers To Bring In Contributions Up Until The “Minute” They Register As A Lobbyist

Politico: “ Lobbyist Ron Klein Fundraising For Obama, Despite Pledge.” (Byron Tau, “Lobbyist Ron Klein Fundraising For Obama, Despite Pledge,” Politico 2/8/12)

  • Former Florida Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL) Bundled At Least $200,000 For Obama’s Reelection While Lobbying On Behalf Of Spirit Airlines. “Former Florida Rep. Ron Klein, now working as a partner for the law firm Holland & Knight, has raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for the Obama campaign, while lobbying on behalf of Spirit Airlines, according to public records.” (Byron Tau, “Lobbyist Ron Klein Fundraising For Obama, Despite Pledge,” Politico 2/8/12)

In The Morning, The Obama Campaign Said That Klein Was Able To Bundle Up Until The “Minute” He Registered As A Lobbyist. “The Obama campaign says that Ron Klein, former Democratic congressman from Florida, turned Obama stalwart, turned lobbyist, is out as a bundler after registering as a lobbyist for Spirit Airlines in early January. ‘The minute he became a lobbyist, he stopped raising money for the campaign,’ a senior Obama for America official tells POLITICO.” (Glenn Thrush, “Ron Klein Out ‘The Minute’ He Started Lobbying, Obama Campaign Says,” Politico, 2/8/12)

  • Even Though Klein Has Been Employed By The Firm Since, March 2011. Holland & Knight is pleased to announce that former U.S. Representative Ron Klein (D-FL) has joined the firm’s Public Policy & Regulation Group as a partner. Klein will play a major role providing strategic counsel to clients in the area of government regulation and compliance in the financial services, healthcare and energy sectors. He will split his time among the firm’s three offices in South Florida and its Washington, D.C. office.”(Press Release, “Former U.S. Representative Ron Klein Joins Holland & Knight’s Public Policy & Regulation Group,” Holland & Knight, 3/14/11)

That Same Afternoon, Klein Said He Had Not Heard From Anyone From The Obama Campaign Regarding His Lobbyist Position. “But Klein said he had not heard from anybody in the Obama campaign. And, he added, he fully expects to continue raising money for the president’s re-election. ‘I understand the rules,’ he said.” (Michael Isikoff, “Obama Bundler To ‘De-Register,’” NBC’s "First Read," 2/8/12)

  • And Within Hours Of His Lobbyist Position Being Revealed, Klein Announced He Will De-Register So That He Can Continue To Raise Funds . “A former Florida congressman who has been a top campaign bundler for President Obama said Wednesday he is taking immediate steps to de-register as a lobbyist for a Florida-based airline so he can continue to raise funds for the president.”(Michael Isikoff, “Obama Bundler To ‘De-Register,’” NBC’s "First Read," 2/8/12)

And The Obama Campaign Isn’t Returning Any Of The Minimum $200,000 Raised By Klein. “ The official said Klein raised all of the cash prior to Dec. 31, 2011, meaning he never raised money as a lobbyist - and also meaning they don’t have to return the estimated $200,000 to $500,000 he raked in.” (Glenn Thrush, “Ron Klein Out ‘The Minute’ He Started Lobbying, Obama Campaign Says,” Politico, 2/8/12)



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