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January 31, 2004
Kerry: Lobbyist Magnet

Far from being the scourge of special-interest lobbyists that he declares himself to be, John Kerry has raised more money from lobbyists than anyone else in the Senate over the past 15 years:

Kerry, a 19-year veteran of the Senate who fought and won four expensive political campaigns, has received nearly $640,000 from lobbyists, many representing telecommunications and financial companies with business before his committee, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

For his presidential race, Kerry has raised more than $225,000 from lobbyists, better than twice as much as his nearest Democratic rival.

Kerry claims that all that money can't buy his vote, but he may have trouble explaining the juxtaposition of this:

One of Kerry's biggest -- and perhaps most controversial -- donors has been the Boston-based law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo. The group, which lobbies on behalf of the telecommunications industry -- and employs the senator's brother, Cameron -- is his single largest contributor over the course of his Senate career. David Leiter, Kerry's former chief of staff, is vice president of a lobbying company affiliated with the Boston-based law firm.

The Center for Public Integrity criticized the senator's relationship with the firm in a little-publicized report released last year, accusing him of pushing the agenda of those helping to pay his bills.

"Kerry, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills favorable to the industry and has written letters to government agencies on behalf of the clientele of his largest donor," the report said. The Boston law firm's client include the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), an umbrella group for telecommunications companies.

Since 1999, Kerry has sponsored at least two bills and co-sponsored half a dozen that were sought by the CTIA, including industry-backed plans for winning lucrative auctions of spectrum, or airwaves. Thomas Wheeler, the former chief executive of the CTIA, and Christopher Putala, a lobbyist for the group, are both among Kerry's biggest presidential fundraisers.

Let's not kid ourselves; lobbyists give money to everyone. The problem here isn't that Kerry takes lobbyist money, it's that he claims to be the champion of the anti-lobbyists while raking in the money. It demonstrates his hypocrisy and his willingness to say anything to get elected. He voted against military action in 1990 because he supported military action to eject Iraq from Kuwait. He voted to authorize military action in 2002 because he didn't support the use of force in Iraq. He's taken more money from lobbyists than anyone else in the Democratic primaries because he wants to kick the lobbyists out of Washington, saying at one stop, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Kerry will take both sides of any position and feign as much passion as he can to convince you that the earth is round, but in a really flat way. Or, to put it another way -- he's the kind of man who makes a public spectacle of excoriating the influence of lobbyists while writing and sponsoring bills for the benefit of his brother and his lobbyist cronies. He's a hypocrite, and a blatant one at tha. Is that what Democrats propose for the nation? Is that the best they can do?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 31, 2004 9:36 AM

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