Back in 2008, while running for the presidential nomination of the Democratic party, Barack Obama decided his campaign would not accept any contributions from lobbyists, or allow lobbyists to attend fund raisers where he, or his family, was present.
We can talk about the definition of the word “lobbyist.” What is means and what it doesn’t. Who who is and isn’t one. We can go back and forth about whether or not the ban really made a substantive difference in Obama’s campaign. But on the whole we can probably agree that putting a “no lobbyist” restriction in place was a good thing. We don’t want our political parties funded by professional lobbyists.
Call me naive, but I believe most elected officials are people with integrity who are trying to move the country in the direction their constituents prefer. But even with the help of staff, they cannot be everywhere, they cannot know everything. Our politicians learn about issues from the people they meet with: constituents, policy experts, other elected officials. Throw money into the mix, and the people they meet with most often are “government relations executives.
I was at an event once listening to a United States senator speak. He was saying that it was good thing he wasn’t self-funded. It was only at events like these that he got to meet “regular people,” he said. I didn’t feel like questioning him, but I wondered. Did he really think people who pay thousands of dollars to meet with him, far away from his state, are regular people?
I understand that some lobbyists lobby for causes I support. I happen to agree with Apple’s concerns about internet security. The lobbyist for the Sierra Club probably has a few good points, etc, etc.
I know that President Obama’s ban wasn’t bullet proof. But it was good for the country. Our government shouldn’t be run by lobbyists and political parties are the road through which people get to the government, so they shouldn’t be run by lobbyists either.
And that’s why I am sad to learn that, as his presidency comes to an end, the Democratic National Committee leadership has decided to lift Obama’s ban on lobbyists. The Washington Post reports: “The change in the rules, already apparent to leading Washington lobbyists, was quietly introduced at some point during the past couple of months.” In fact, the DNC has already hired a new staff person who’s job it will be to fundraise from these lobbyists.
The DNC is saying that they need more money to pay for the convention. But I was at the last convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. I can assure you, they didn’t need any more money for that convention.
Regular people all over America are keenly aware of the corrupting influence of money in politics. They are rightfully angry. The DNC just gave them one more reason for their anger.
I urge you to join me in calling on the Democratic National Committee to restore the policy that president Obama began, and insist that the Democratic Party not be funded by lobbyists.
My wife Barbara and I at the 2012 convention that was paid for with $0 lobbyist dollars