JULY 28, 2008
Although both presidential candidates love to publicly denounce lobbyists and claim not to accept their potentially tainted special interest money, both John McCain and Barack Obama have in fact accepted hefty sums from them.
McCain leads the way with $181,600 from lobbyists and trade groups despite his infamous rhetoric that lobbyists are agents of big-moneyed special interests. That doesn’t stop Arizona’s Republican senator from taking their cash, however. As for the disparaged lobbyists, they keep giving because they know such criticism is a staple of politics.
The Democrat senator from Illinois has repeatedly said that he wants nothing to do with money from lobbyists and his campaign always returns every cent discovered to come from such sources. Still, more than $6,000 has somehow made it to his campaign coffers from special interest advocates lobbying for education, health care, the environment and human rights.
Special interest lobbyists have deep pockets and they regularly give large sums of money to powerful politicians who can later help them with their agendas. In fact, lobbyists and trade groups have given about $10.4 million to presidential and congressional candidates in the first half of this year alone, with the majority of the cash ($4.7 million) going to Democrats.
Hillary Clinton got nearly $90,000 from lobbyists before dropping out of the 2008 presidential race last month but she takes money from everyone, including Middle Eastern fugitives and U.S. lawbreakers. Her fellow Democrats in the Senate got $181,500, nearly three times the amount of Senate Republicans, and House Democrats got around 20% more than their Republican counterparts.
Lobbyists have for decades showered politicians with lucrative donations, but specific figures have not been available in the past. A new ethics law, inspired by the Jack Abramoff scandal, has made the information public for the first time this year. Ambramoff is in prison for showering lawmakers and members of their staff with expensive gifts and money in exchange for special favors. So far 13 people—including lawmakers, their high-ranking staffers and Bush Administration officials—have pleaded guilty in the scheme.
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