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Mr. Conant also raised questions about Steve Farber, a registered lobbyist and a big fundraiser for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee have pledged not to accept donations from federal lobbyists.

The nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute earlier this month found that Mr. Farber and convention fundraisers from both parties are soliciting big contributions from corporate special interests. Those sorts of donations aren’t permitted in the presidential campaigns.

“Why is registered federal lobbyist Steve Farber leading the convention for Obama´s supposedly ‘lobbyist-free´ campaign? Obama´s hypocritical attacks show he can´t stand up to his own standard - and that he just isn´t ready to make change,” Mr. Conant said.

But Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor charged back Wednesday that Sen. John McCain’s campaign took 15 months to rid lobbyists from its staff because of a “perception problem”.

He also noted that Arthur B. Culvahouse, who is heading Mr. McCain’s vice-presidential search, chairs the same law firm that represented disgraced former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling.

“It’s too bad their campaign is still rife with lobbyist influence and doesn’t see a similar perception problem with the man currently running their own vice-presidential selection process, a prominent D.C. lobbyist whose firm has represented Exxon and a top Enron executive …” he said.

Mr. Culvahouse is not currently a lobbyist, but was registered to lobby in 2004 for Fannie Mae, where Mr. Johnson served as chief executive in the 1990s.

Mr. Vietor also said former Hewlett Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, a top economic adviser in the McCain campaign, “presided over thousands of layoffs at Hewlett Packard while receiving a $21 million severance package and $650,000 in mortgage assistance.”

Earlier Wednesday, DNC Chairman Howard Dean called criticism of Mr. Johnson “nuts,” calling it a “Republican planted story.”

“Jim Johnson doesn’t work for the campaign, he doesn’t get paid, he’s a volunteer,” he told reporters at gathering hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

*Donald Lambro contributed to this article.