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Excerpt: "By quietly dropping a ban on direct donations from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees, the Democratic National Committee in February reopened the floodgates for corruption that Barack Obama had put in place in 2008."

Democratic National Convention. (photo: Drew Angerer/Getty)
Democratic National Convention. (photo: Drew Angerer/Getty)

In the Hillary Clinton Era, Democrats Welcome Lobbying Money Back Into the Convention

By Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons, The Intercept

29 July 16


y quietly dropping a ban on direct donations from registered federal lobbyists and political action committees, the Democratic National Committee in February reopened the floodgates for corruption that Barack Obama had put in place in 2008.

Secret donors with major public-policy agendas were welcomed back in from the cold and showered with access and appreciation at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Major donors were offered “Family and Friends” packages, including suites at the Ritz-Carlton, backstage passes, and even seats in the Clinton family box. Corporate lobbyists like Heather Podesta celebrated the change, telling Time: “My money is now good.”

What was going on inside the convention hall was also reflected outside, at costly events sponsored by the  fossil fuel industrytechnology companiesfor-profit collegespharmaceutical companies, and railway companies, to name a few.

Craig Holman, an elections financing expert at Public Citizen, said that the end of the lobbyist contribution ban as well as Congress’s 2014 termination of all remaining public financing of the party conventions has served to undermine democracy. “The implications of these changes are that we have opened up access to the parties and the conventions to just the very, very wealthy,” he said.

He pointed out that Congress originally passed the law to publicly finance presidential conventions after a 1972 scandal where President Richard Nixon terminated an anti-trust investigation eight days after the telecommunications company ITT donated heavily to that year’s Republican convention.

For the more than 1,900 Bernie Sanders delegates at the convention, the dependence on high-roller lobbyists was particularly galling. Sanders’s campaign was built on a simple promise: he would shun big-ticket fundraisers and corporate lobbyists in favor of a legion of small donors. And it worked. By the end of April 2016, Sanders’s campaign was actually raising more money than Clinton’s, which was welcoming support from corporate lobbyists and bundlers.

But an overwhelming majority of Democratic lawmakers we spoke to at the convention didn’t seem troubled by the rule change at all.

At a posh event hosted by The Atlantic and paid for by the American Petroleum Institute oil lobby, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, shrugged off concerns about the influence of special interest groups.

“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the DNC on that,” he said in response to a question whether lifting the ban was the right move.

“Do you think that lobbyists have undue influence?” we followed up.

“I don’t know.”

“What about energy lobbyists? What about oil lobbyists?”

“What about ’em?”

“Do you think they have undue influence in the United States?”

“I think they’re just like teachers, like firemen, like everybody who contributes.”

“What about the Koch Brothers, who spent $400 million on an election?”

“You’ve gotta go talk to the Koch Brothers,” he replied, ending the conversation.

Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a Willie Sutton justification for lifting the lobbying ban. “The lobbyists, that’s where the money is,” he said.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made attacks on special interests a cornerstone of his short-lived Democratic presidential primary campaign — decrying Hillary Clinton’s “cozy relationship with Wall Street.” Just a few short months later, his concern about moneyed interests influencing the Democratic Party seem to have evaporated.

“I’m really kind of agnostic on it,” he said. “I really don’t care one way or another.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland ducked the question. “It’s above my paygrade,” he quipped.

Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said he would never have banned lobbyists like Obama did in the first place. “I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “It’s not a matter of wrong or right. It’s a matter of making sure we have the resources to put on a convention.”

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the chair of the DNC’s Host Committee, has refused to disclose donors to that committee until 60 days after the convention.

In an interview with The Intercept, Rendell insisted there was nothing wrong with keeping the committee’s donors secret until just a few weeks before the election, and he downplayed the influence of big donors. “I never made one decision where I was influenced by a campaign contribution,” he said.

“So why are lobbyists giving money to the DNC now again,” we asked. “Are they doing it just because they have extra money to give?”

“They want access,” he acknowledged.

Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan avoided the question. “At this point I want to focus on the basic issues. I’m in favor of getting money more and more out of politics,” he said. When we followed up by asking whether lobbyists should be able to fundraise for the DNC, he walked away.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California stopped to talk to us, but after hearing the subject, briskly walked away as a fleet of staffers blocked off access to her.

A staffer for Rep. Adam Schiff of California asked the subject of our interview question. She then informed her boss, who told her, “I don’t want to talk about that.”

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said he was unconcerned with the policy shift. “Unfortunately, we’re in a world today where we have to raise private money,” he said. “I don’t get too concerned about who and what groups you take money from. It’s up to you.”

There were, however, a few dissenters to the new policy.

Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said he favored the Obama-era ban. “I think the president had it right,” he told us.

When informed of the new policy, Rep. Jerry McErney of California was blunt. “Yeah, that’s probably a bad idea,” he said.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin said she wanted to see a return to of the ban. “That would be something that I would encourage,” she said.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut also objected to the change. “I think they should not have done that,” she said.

When informed that lobbyists could give six figures to the DNC, former Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin was taken aback.

“That’s wrong,” he said. your social media marketing partner


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+20 # RMDC 2016-07-29 14:05
A sneak peak at the Hillary administrstion. It will push pay to play to unheard of levels. The Clintons specialize in this. Hillary will be speaking to Goldman Sachs for $1 million a pop!!!!
+11 # librarian1984 2016-07-29 16:31
I wish somebody would offer her a great job for. a billion dollars a year and she would just go away and leave us alone.
+9 # guomashi 2016-07-29 17:03
Quoting librarian1984:
I wish somebody would offer her a great job for. a billion dollars a year and she would just go away and leave us alone.

She doesn't want money.
She wants power.
She only accepts bribes insofar as they increase her power.
The damage she would do if she achieved her sought after power is inconceivable.
+12 # RMDC 2016-07-29 19:27
I actually don't think Hillary is the scum in the Clinton family. Bill is. I've known people like him. They are compulsively manipulative. I met both Clintons once in the 90s. I felt Bill was an aggressive sociopath and Hillary was his junior partner. They are a team; Hillary follows the leader.
+10 # Radscal 2016-07-29 22:19
She's gotten awfully wealthy for someone who only wants power.

And she's gotten awfully powerful for someone who only wants money.

She's Two... Two... Two Shills in One!

Actually, I think it was Greg Palast who observed some years ago that the Clintons are the first political creatures he's studied who seem to want to attain power almost entirely for the wealth its application can generate.
+4 # RMDC 2016-07-30 07:46
The Clintons are southern politicians. Hillary is from Chicago but she assimilate the political vision that Bill inherited from the culture he grew up in. Southern politics is a strange mix of the old aristocracy of the slave owning plantation world and the new culture of the rise of the lower classes to power. The aristocracy gives them the absolute right and need to rule. This is the absolute power part. The new white "trash" culture gives them the manipulations, petty corruption, corrupt alliances, and all the intrigue.

William Faulkner captured best the world of Bill Clinton's politics in his late novels. Bill Clinton is just Flem Snopes written large. Hot Springs Arkansas is not really very far from Faulkner's Mississippi. Maybe a better model would be the Walton family of Benton Arkansas.

These people are dangerous. Southern politics is something we non-southerners are likely not to understand. I lived for a year in a city near Savannah Georgia. It was a real awakening -- nightmare may be better.

There's a book called something like The South Won the Civil War. It is about southern redemptionism and neo-confederacy . The south controlled the Washington regime from 1787 to 1861. Now with the republican and blue dog democrat "southern strategy," the south again rules the Washington regime. Bill Clinton is a southern blue dog democrat. These people are dangerous. Far more dangerous than the egoist Trump.
+6 # jdd 2016-07-30 07:01
Actually, I think she craves both. Recall that she gave a speech on "income inequality" while sporting a $14,500 Armani jacket. More important, while Hillary accepts bribes from just about any source, the bottom line is that she is a shameless Wall Street asset.
+3 # librarian1984 2016-07-30 07:05
Okay, point taken everybody.

Let's give her a billion $ and the title of Empress .. if she'll just please go away.
+1 # PeacefulGarden 2016-07-29 19:34
"administrstion ", vodka rules!
+11 # MainStreetMentor 2016-07-29 20:49
Hillary Clinton is a financial vacuum cleaner, and she does not care from whence she vacuums the cash. Her monetary cash-cows can be traced to the moguls associated with the military-indust rial complexes and, of course Wall Street banking. She LOVES big business. She will absolutely revert to backing the passage of the TPP – and accept the finances TPPs’ Big Business will most certainly funnel into some coffer or other to which she, (or her corrupt political machine), will have “legal” access. She will NEVER work to break-up the financial establishments of Wall Street, (in computer terms, they are her financial source code). The DNC is just as bad when it comes to sourcing cash – they do not care where it comes from – and I’d bet there are several “reimbursements ” pending already. Can you or I prove that? Absolutely not – but until “Bernie bashing” emails came to light, we couldn’t prove there was unethical behavior which took place involving the Chair of the DNC either … remember? Money corrupts … and Hillary’s political machine has it in spades! The first vote of the 2016 Presidential Election hasn’t even been cast, and already the DNC is hard at work shaking hands with the friggin’ lobbyists! We, as citizens, had better start paying very strict attention to the Sanders message of ridding our governance of big money, corruption and lobbyists’ funding. A first step should be: Rendering moot – Citizens United.
+7 # PeacefulGarden 2016-07-29 17:05
I think that 200 or 300 years from now people will look back at our worship of money as we look back upon the early religious sects. I hope they look at us as complete fools. Banks are the churches of money. Who worships at the alter of cash...?

Money is the dumbest waste of time. But, woe, did the RNC and DNC do the money thing this month. They all have dollar signs in their eyes. And they all did the God almighty thing.

It is funny how Christianity led the way to Banks. The myth of wealth.
+6 # guomashi 2016-07-29 18:41
Quoting PeacefulGarden:
I think that 200 or 300 years from now people will look back at our ....

I see you are an optimist.
I expect in 200 or 300 years people will be too busy looking for nuts and berries and worms to have learned about us and our religious sects.

And Christianity didn't lead the way to banks. Remember Jesus and his little snit with the money lenders in the temple? That's what got him killed.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
+2 # PeacefulGarden 2016-07-29 19:33
Christianity was the first corporation. Ah, don't be a fool. Open your eyes.
+4 # RMDC 2016-07-30 07:40
peace -- not Christianity. It was the Roman franchise, the popes and their Holy Roman Empire, Inc.

There were lots of non-Roman christians until the 1200 when the HQ in Rome began to torture and execute anyone found to practice something other than the Roman version.

The US also conceptualizes itself as a Holy American Empire. It is out to save the souls or the freedom of everyone on earth. It wants to redeem them and bring them to the promise land of democracy.

Saint Junipero Sierra once said about native americans he was baptizing that they would never be able to live as christians so it was better to baptize them and then immediately kill them so they would remain pure forever. This is how the Holy American Empire goes about its missionary work.
+4 # economagic 2016-07-29 21:48
There is a big difference between "Christianity" and the teachings of "Da Naz"!
+2 # guomashi 2016-07-29 23:48
Quoting economagic:
There is a big difference between "Christianity" and the teachings of "Da Naz"!

+3 # economagic 2016-07-29 21:45
+9 # Ted 2016-07-30 02:17
+3 # librarian1984 2016-07-30 07:08
I think you've got many more people on your team this week.
+4 # Mountain Man 2016-07-30 02:19
+3 # librarian1984 2016-07-30 07:11
Dang it's like a church in here!

Are we all just grateful because the trolls haven't found us here yet?

There is a MAJOR presence on the Dem articles.

I think they just got an infusion of cash.


Is it just spite, or is there a purpose? And if so, what is it? We need to figure this out and foil it.

We have to fight them on every front.

+2 # Radscal 2016-07-30 13:11
I've become more convinced than ever that some of them are Trumpsters. They got him nominated. They got the weaker Democrat nominated.

Now they're coming in for the kill.
+6 # cmp 2016-07-30 03:14
And, on a somewhat related note:

I have been doing a little research on political disclaimers. .. It turns out that in 2006, the FEC decided to exempt bloggers, by defining a blogger, ".. as a news entity - including when a nominal fee is paid."

And, if curious, the FEC laws, as they apply to a disclaimer:

But, I think we all need to be very familiar with another new twist from the "rah-rah, we are all just idiot consumers.. .. GoTeamClinton!" .. If you are not familiar with the well funded, digitally focused SuperPac that is working for her under the name of 'Correct The Record,' then here is some background:

~" Be nice to Hillary Clinton online — or risk a confrontation with her super PAC "~

It seems that a conversation may be due on November 9th, about SuperPac's and their affiliations with the Candidate Campaigns; as well as, the commercialized definition of a paid digital political endorsement without a disclaimer, etc.. (
+5 # Ted 2016-07-30 05:02
That article on the "Manipulate The Record" superpac sure explains a lot of the time and space-wasting posts here!

Thanks for the link CMP!
+1 # cmp 2016-07-30 16:08
Hey Ted!
Can't buy me love, everybody tells me so
Can't buy me love, no no no, no!

Poor sHill
.. (hahahaaaaa!!!! !...(smile..))
-4 # Robbee 2016-07-30 12:15
nonsense! - # librarian1984 2016-07-30 09:03
The DNC and HRC don't care if Trump is elected.

- as all who follow rsn comments know - in order! my goals are 1) public funding! only! of federal! state! and local! elections! (my mantra!) 2) turning america more progressive! 3) turning the dem party more progressive! - i am the bernie supporter who still listens to bernie! - go bernie! and go dem! - note that bernie and i always shared these goals! - in the same order! - neither bernie nor i have ever made a secret of our shared goals here on rsn! we are open books! - "our revolution" movement is all about our 1st and 2nd goals!

bernie and i are disappointed that he is not dem nominee - but thrilled about his impact on dem politics! and hill in particular! - hill's candidacy is shaped by bernie! made in vermont!

one can wonder how a rich elite, like hill now is, can possibly stand for the working class against wall street while taking wall street money? - the same could have been asked of outstanding progressive regimes including TR, FDR, JFK and LBJ! - somehow they flipped the script! - became "men for others" - kaine

late last year some here noodled whether bernie and rump have changed the system where money buys offices?

NO! money still buys offices! - ad-buying remains the dominant feature in elections! - if not this year? in 2020 we go right back to 1 billion or more spent by each prez campaign! - another billion for other offices! - money rules!
+2 # Radscal 2016-07-30 19:52
FDR and JFK were born rich.

HRC and Slick Willy used their "public service" to make themselves phenomenally wealthy.

LBJ was a crook long before he rigged his first election. But the Johnsons sure did make a ton of money investing in Bell Helicopter and Brown and Root (later spin off: Halliburton) just before he turned Vietnam into a full-fledged war.
-1 # Robbee 2016-07-31 20:49
Quoting Radscal:
FDR and JFK were born rich.

HRC and Slick Willy used their "public service" to make themselves phenomenally wealthy.

LBJ was a crook long before he rigged his first election. But the Johnsons sure did make a ton of money investing in Bell Helicopter and Brown and Root (later spin off: Halliburton) just before he turned Vietnam into a full-fledged war.

- won't it be great if HRC becomes the 5th great progressive prez who is rich? - only in america! god is great!
0 # Radscal 2016-08-01 16:13
It would be great. It is also a fantasy to imagine HRC turning into a progressive just as she gets into the office most able to further enrich her family and associates.
-4 # Robbee 2016-07-30 12:16
our revolution, part 2

on July 16 hill pledged at Netroots Nation she will, during her first month in office, introduce a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision that permits corporations to make unlimited campaign “bribes” - jimmy carter’s word

to overthrow plutocracy by public funding is bernie's pledge! - explains bernie - This Is Not Democracy. This Is Oligarchy. Bernie Sanders, RSN, 1/5/16 - “Here’s the truth: The economic and political systems of this country are stacked against ordinary Americans. The rich get richer and use their wealth to buy elections, and I believe that we cannot change this corrupt system by taking its money. If we’re serious about creating jobs, health care for all, climate change, and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be serious about campaign finance reform. We must pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United … And more importantly, I believe we need to move towards the public funding of elections.”

- if hill's proposed con-am falls short of bernie's benchmark? - we count on bernie to propose a better one!

- go bernie! and go dem!

lib! - tag! you're it!
+1 # librarian1984 2016-07-30 23:19
Hey, R,

Take a look at this:
-1 # Robbee 2016-07-31 21:49
Quoting librarian1984:
Hey, R,
Take a look at this:

- lib, thanks! - as prez i vastly prefer bernie! my personal savior!

yet bernie is still with us! my redeemer liveth! - he leads our revolution! - warren alongside him in the senate!

as a practical matter - it strikes me that - if hill becomes prez - america may get more progressive! faster! than bernie could lead us as prez! - i expect bernie and jane share my view - bernie has made hill the most progressive prez she can be! with sincere embrace on hill's part! - a fair imitation of bernie! policy-wise! - hill will not lead in a conservative direction!

meanwhile for me bush2cheney were 8 years of atrocity! i cannot forget! - nor forgive nader! who remains full of himself! proud of his small, but critical role, running in florida! - i am desperate to avoid 8 more years of pure hell! i expect i would be physically and mentally ill - i refuse to imagine what crime i would be willing to commit in order to avoid another GOP prez! - there lies madness!

try seeing things my way! - we are all at serious risk! sorry!

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