Lobbyists for Mitt
"I don't have years and years of favors to repay, lobbyists who have raised all sorts of money for me."
--Mitt Romney, Nashua, N.H., Jan. 7, 2008.
Over the last week, Mitt Romney has retooled his campaign to present himself as the outsider who can fix Washington. Borrowing from Barack Obama's winning playbook, he depicts himself as a "change" agent who can go head to head with the insiders. While it is true that he has financed his campaign partly out of the millions he made as a management consultant, it is not true that he has no "favors to repay." In fact, some of his key supporters in his 2008 presidential run happen to be Washington lobbyists.
A search of campaign finance disclosure records show that at least 13 "bundlers" for Romney are also federally registered lobbyists. Several of these people have been active in Republican fund-raising circles for years, and would certainly be in line to play a prominent role in any future Romney administration.
Perhaps the most prominent example of an uber-lobbyist turned Romney adviser is Ronald C. Kaufman, chairman of Dutko Worldwide, one of the leading "government affairs" companies in the country. Kaufman is a top fundraiser for Romney, and a co-chair of his Massachusetts steering committee. A longtime adviser to Republican presidents, beginning with George H.W. Bush, he joined Dutko in 1994. According to his Dutko biography, he helped to expand Dutko's business into all 50 states, and is now establishing an overseas operation, Dutko Global Advisers.
Then there is Vincent Weber, a founder of the influential Washington consulting firm Clark & Weinstock, whose clients have included Microsoft, Edison Electric, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, PhRMA. Weber also serves as Romney's policy chairman. Is it a coincidence that in the debate in Manchester, N.H., Romney jumped to the defense of the pharmaceutical companies, telling John McCain that he should not turn them into "the bad guys?"
"They're trying to create products to make us well and make us better, and they're doing the work of the free market," Romney enthused.
Exactly how much money these people have raised for Romney cannot be determined from his financial disclosure documents, said Steven Weissman of the Campaign Finance Institute, a non-profit group that seeks to shed light on campaign finance. Unlike several other leading candidates, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani, Romney has not provided any information about how much money his individual bundlers have raised.
"People are supporting him for various reasons," said Weissman. "One of the reasons is they think they will have access to him and hope to have influence in his administration."
The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Other bundler-lobbyists for Romney include:
The Pinocchio Test
Romney is clearly exaggerating his outsider status. He is wrong to say that he does not "owe favors" to lobbyists who have been raising money for his campaign. Whether he chooses to repay the favors is another matter, of course.
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