Obama Campaign Is Splitting Hairs When Defining ‘Lobbyist’

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Photo: Tim Sloan-Pool/Getty Image

The Obama campaign, you might remember, made a totally voluntary promise that it would not take any campaign money from lobbyists. Which it hasn't! If you define "lobbyist" extremely narrowly, that is. As the Times reports, though the campaign hasn't gotten cash from registered lobbyists, at least fifteen of his "bundlers" (donors who wrangle other supporters into making donations) walk, talk, and act an awful lot like lobbyists, and they've raised north of $5 million thus far.


Take Sally Susman. An executive at the drug-maker Pfizer, she has raised more than $500,000 for the president’s re-election and helped organize a $35,800-a-ticket dinner that Mr. Obama attended in Manhattan in June. At the same time, she leads Pfizer’s powerful lobbying shop, and she has visited the White House four times since 2009 — twice on export issues.

But under the byzantine rules that govern federal lobbying, Ms. Susman has not registered with the Senate as a lobbyist.

Nor has David L. Cohen, who oversees lobbying at the Comcast Corporation and is also a member of Mr. Obama’s exclusive $500,000 bundling club.

At a June fund-raiser in the backyard of his Philadelphia home, Mr. Cohen hosted the president and some 120 guests who paid at least $10,000 each to attend; Mr. Obama called Mr. Cohen and his wife “great friends.”

Not lobbyists, you see. Friends.

Obama Backers Tied to Lobbies Raise Millions [NYT]