Democrats dine with lobbyists, donors

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Mr. and Mrs. Podesta - both powerful lobbyists - list clients such as American Airlines, Eli Lilly & Co., BP America, BAE Systems and Google, according to Senate disclosure reports.

They also are longtime fundraisers.

Mrs. Podesta directly donated $108,000 to candidates and committees in the 2008 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. After Monday night’s event, she expects she and her husband will have raised $1 million for Democrats in 2009, she said.

Mrs. Podesta said that raising money for Democratic members is “our way of giving back.”

“Podesta is capable of bringing in a great deal of money for Democrats and the Democratic Party,” Mr. Holman said. “It’s a symbiotic relationship - members of Congress and candidates get money, and Podesta gets credit and prestige in the Democratic ranks of Congress.

“This is just the ongoing of a very lucrative source of funds coming from lobbyists.”

Mr. Podesta’s brother, John, served as chief of staff in the second term of the Clinton administration, bringing order to the campaign-finance scandal that had rocked the White House. He served in that position until President Clinton left office in January 2001. He also was co-chairman of the Obama-Biden transition team.

On the whole, Democratic committees have seen a bump in contributions in January.

The national congressional committees’ January haul, for the most part, reflected the Democratic majority in both houses. Fundraising at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rose 18 percent to $2.7 million and 13 percent to $2.4 million, respectively, in January 2009 versus January 2007.

Fundraising at the National Republican Congressional Committee fell dramatically over the same period, from $5.6 million to $1.5 million. However, fundraising at the National Republican Senatorial Committee doubled to $1.8 million.

Money follows political power, said Michael Toner, a former FEC chairman and a partner at Bryan Cave LLP, particularly corporate money.

“There’s no question K Street corporate PACs are being very generous with the Democratic officeholders now - they’re the committee chairs - particularly on the House side,” he said.

Other Democrats listed to attend the Podesta fundraiser are House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller of California, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman of California, and Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee Chairman Peter J. Visclosky, among others.

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