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March 2, 2004
Definition of 'Is', Part II

Senator John Edwards, whose presidential run will likely run onto the shoals tonight, has made a lot of noise about refusing money from lobbyists, especially in the wake of a number of scandals involving frontrunner John Kerry. However, it turns out that Edwards and Kerry have more in common than first thought:

While Democrat John Edwards boasts that he hasn't taken a dime from Washington lobbyists for his presidential campaign, he has accepted thousands of dollars from people in the capital's lobbying profession or their spouses and children. ...

Even if donors lobby at the state level or run firms or organizations that lobby Congress, their money is accepted by Edwards as long as they are not personally registered.

For instance, Edwards, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, received a $500 donation from National Education Association executive director John Wilson. Wilson himself isn't a registered lobbyist, but the union he runs spends roughly $1 million a year lobbying in the nation's capital.

Note that Edwards sits on the Senate committee that oversees education, too. The article provides other examples, to which the Edwards campaign responds that the donors were not lobbyists at the moment they donated. Some people have called Edwards the Clinton heir apparent -- I suppose we now know why. If Edwards had a prayer of stopping John Kerry, I suppose we'd be in for another round of redefining the word 'is' all over again.

Now, is there anything illegal about accepting these donations? Not at all. However, just as in Kerry's case, it is the height of hypocrisy to set oneself up as the public scold on lobbyist money in the political system and simultaneously stuff one's pockets full of it. Presidential campaigns are usually exercises in cynicism, but this year's group of Democrats may be the crassest examples in decades.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 2, 2004 5:57 AM

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