Meanwhile, Mr. Obama’s running mate, Mr. Biden, has close lobbying ties as well.
The Washington Times reported Sunday that the senator from Delaware, a candidate in the Democratic primary race who dropped out after a poor showing, has accepted more than $200,000 from the lobbying industry this year. In addition, Hunter Biden, this year alone has lobbied for 10 clients, including biotech companies Pulmatrix Inc. and Achaogen Inc.
Campaign-finance groups say lobbyists aren’t likely to stay out of Denver this week, even though Mr. Obama has railed against them on the campaign trail.
“I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over,” he has said on the campaign trail.
But watchdogs say they expect corporate lobbyists to get a special level of access this week at many of the invitation-only events throughout Denver sponsored by corporations.
Nancy Watzman, director of the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation’s “Party Time” project, which tracks spending at the conventions, said the private events give lobbyists and corporate officials a chance to “rub shoulders” with politicians, while most other members of the public have to write letters or make phone calls to draw lawmakers’ attention to important issues.
Such access is made possible for many corporations with lobbying interests in Washington through big contributions to the host committees for the Republican and Democratic conventions.
Host committees are exempt from strict federal rules banning unlimited “soft money” contributions from corporations and unions to political parties. The Federal Election Commission has said the nonprofit host organizations are formed primarily to promote the host city, not politics.
But a study by the nonprofit Campaign Finance Institute raises serious questions about that conclusion by reviewing just who is in charge at both host committees. The group concluded that host committee fundraising staffs are “reflections of their partisan sponsors.”
“Basically, Republican elected officials, their financiers and party operatives are asking for money to fund the Republican convention while Democratic ones are doing the same thing for the Democratic convention,” the study concluded.
“Furthermore, when these Colorado Democrats and Minnesota Republicans ‘make the ask,’ their undeniable civic boosterism frequently is accompanied by offers of special access to elected officials, national party leaders and other party influentials.”
Mr. Dino, aside from his lobbying job, served as an adviser to the 2006 campaign for Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. The committee’s chief financial officer, Melissa Koenigsberg, previously worked as finance director for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat.
Meantime, the host committee for the Republican convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul is run by Kara Ahern, who has worked as an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney. The committee’s chief executive, Jeff Larsen, works at a telemarketing firms that has done millions of dollars in business with the Republican National Committee, according to the report.