From USA Today on April 16, 2008: "WASHINGTON — Barack Obama often boasts he is "the only candidate who isn't taking a dime from Washington lobbyists," yet his fundraising team includes 38 members of law firms that were paid $138 million last year to lobby the federal government, records show.Those lawyers, including 10 former federal lobbyists, have pledged to raise at least $3.5 million for the Illinois senator's presidential race. Employees of their firms have given Obama's campaign $2.26 million, a USA TODAY analysis of campaign finance data shows.
Thirty-one of the 38 are law firm partners, who typically receive a share of their firm's lobbying fees. At least six of them have some managerial authority over lobbyists.
"It makes no difference whether the person is a registered lobbyist or the partner of a registered lobbyist, if the person is raising money to get access or curry favor," said Michael Malbin, director of the Campaign Finance Institute, a non-partisan think tank.
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said that while Obama's refusal to take money from lobbyists "isn't a perfect solution or symbol, it does reflect Obama's record of trying to change the way that Washington does business." He declined to elaborate.
Lobbyists have long played key fundraising and policymaking roles for candidates, and lobbyists are raising money for both Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain.
Obama fundraisers who work for law firms that lobby and share the fees include:
•Allan Katz, a Florida lawyer who chairs the government relations practice of Akerman Senterfitt. The firm took in $3.6 million for Washington lobbying last year, according to public records compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. The firm touts on its website "an enviable level of access" for clients.
•Mark Alderman, managing partner of Philadelphia's WolfBlock law firm. The firm's lobbying subsidiary earned $930,000 in Washington last year representing clients including defense contractor Lockheed Martin, records show.
•Scott Blake Harris, managing partner of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis, a Washington telecommunications law firm. Harris withdrew as a lobbyist for Microsoft and Cisco in June, but his partners still lobby, he said.
"My practice isn't going to be helped by this at all," said Harris, who said he got involved with Obama after his 14-year-old son interned in the senator's office. "I went to see him because of how nice he'd been to my kid, and I was captivated by his vision."
Katz, who got to know Obama over dinner, said his lobbying business "will be fine whether he wins or whether he loses."
Alderman said he was "just blown away" after meeting Obama. "This is not a business proposition for me," he said.
OBAMA FUNDRAISERS: Lobbyist ties
These 38 fundraisers for Barack Obama's presidential campaign work for law firms that have lobbying operations in Washington, D.C. The dollar figure reflects the minimum amount each has pledged to raise for the campaign.
MIN. PLEDGE LOCATION FIRM
Scott Harris $200,000 DC Harris, Wiltshire and Grannis
Allan J. Katz
$200,000 FL Akerman Senterfitt
Michael Lawson $200,000 CA Skadden, Arps
John Levi $200,000 IL Sidley Austin
Karol Mason $200,000 GA Alston & Bird
Thomas J. Perrelli $200,000 VA Jenner & Block
Thomas A. Reed $200,000 VA Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis
Christina Tchen $200,000 IL Skadden, Arps
Tony West $200,000 CA Morrison & Foerster
Mark L. Alderman $100,000 PA Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen
Timothy M. Broas $100,000 MD Winston & Strawn
Peter Bynoe $100,000 IL DLA Piper
Gregory B. Craig $100,000 DC Williams & Connolly
Norman Eisen $100,000 DC Zuckerman Spaeder
Nicole Lamb-Hale $100,000 MI Foley & Lardner
Andrew Schapiro $100,000 NY Mayer Brown
Charles C. Adams Jr. $50,000 Switzerland Hogan & Hartson
David Burd $50,000 DC Arnold & Porter
Tom Cole $50,000 IL Sidley Austin
Michael H. Dardzinski $50,000 China Reed Smith
Howard W. Gutman $50,000 MD Williams & Connolly
Jeff Horwitz $50,000 NY Proskauer Rose
David C. Jacobson $50,000 IL Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal
Hrishi Karthikeyan $50,000 DC Covington & Burling
Ronald Kirk $50,000 TX Vinson & Elkins
William T. Lake $50,000 DC WilmerHale
Edward Lazarus $50,000 CA Akin Gump
Jack Levin $50,000 IL Kirkland & Ellis
Kenneth G. Lore $50,000 DC Bingham McCutchen
Charles B. Ortner $50,000 NY Proskauer Rose
Susan Pravda $50,000 MA Foley & Lardner
Paul N. Roth $50,000 NY Schulte Roth & Zabel
John Schmidt $50,000 IL Mayer Brown
Robert M. Sussman* $50,000 DC Latham & Watkins
Kathryn Thomson $50,000 VA Sidley Austin
Barry B. White $50,000 MA Foley Hoag
Steven M. Zager $50,000 TX Akin Gump
Robert S. Litt n/a MD Arnold & Porter
* Robert M. Sussman retired as a partner on December 31, 2007.
Source: Obama for America, Center for Responsive Politics, Public Citizen