McCain team has 83 Wall St lobbyists

Of those 177 lobbyists [on McCain's team], according to a Mother Jones review of Senate and House records, at least 83 have in recent years lobbied for the financial industry McCain now attacks. These are high-paid influence-peddlers who have been working the corridors of the nation's capital to win favors and special treatment for investment banks, securities firms, hedge funds, accounting outfits, and insurance companies. Their clients have included AIG, the newest symbol of corporate excess; Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy on Monday sending the stock market into a tailspin; Merrill Lynch, which was bought out by Bank of America this week; and Washington Mutual, the banking giant that could be the next to fall. Among these 83 lobbyists are McCain's chief political adviser, Charlie Black (JP Morgan, Washington Mutual Bank, Freddie Mac, Mortgage Bankers Association of America); McCain's national finance co-chairman, Wayne Berman (AIG, Blackstone, Credit Suisse, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac); the campaign's congressional liaison, John Green (Carlyle Group, Citigroup, Icahn Associates, Fannie Mae); McCain's veep vetter, Arthur Culvahouse (Fannie Mae); and McCain's transition planning chief, William Timmons Sr. (Citigroup, Freddie Mac, Vanguard Group). (cont.)

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A Globe review of Obama's campaign finance records shows that he collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists and PACs as a state legislator in Illinois, a US senator, and a presidential aspirant.

In Obama's eight years in the Illinois Senate, from 1996 to 2004, almost two-thirds of the money he raised for his campaigns -- $296,000 of $461,000 -- came from PACs, corporate contributions, or unions, according to Illinois Board of Elections records. He tapped financial services firms, real estate developers, healthcare providers, oil companies, and many other corporate interests, the records show.

Obama's US Senate campaign committee, starting with his successful run in 2004, has collected $128,000 from lobbyists and $1.3 million from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks money in politics. His $1.3 million from PACs represents 8 percent of what he has raised overall. Clinton's Senate committee, by comparison, has raised $3 million from PACs, 4 percent of her total amount raised, the group said.

In addition, Obama's own federal PAC, Hopefund, took in $115,000 from 56 PACs in the 2005-2006 election cycle out of $4.4 million the PAC raised, according to CQ MoneyLine, which collects Federal Election Commission data. Obama then used those PAC contributions -- including thousands from defense contractors, law firms, and the securities and insurance industries -- to build support for his presidential run by making donations to Democratic Party organizations and candidates around the country.

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that after seeing the influence of lobbyists firsthand during his two years in Washington, Obama decided before he entered the presidential race that he would take a different approach to fund-raising than he had in the past.

"He's leading by example and taking steps that he feels need to be taken on the national stage to clean up the undue influence of Washington lobbyists on the policies and priorities of Washington," Psaki said. "His leadership on this issue is an evolving process."

Psaki said Obama believes that healthcare lobbyists have blocked progress toward universal health coverage, and that oil company lobbyists have blocked badly needed changes to America's energy policies.

Though Obama has returned thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from registered federal lobbyists since he declared his candidacy in February, his presidential campaign has maintained ties with lobbyists and lobbying firms to help raise some of the $58.9 million he collected through the first six months of 2007. Obama has raised more than $1.4 million from members of law and consultancy firms led by partners who are lobbyists, The Los Angeles Times reported last week. And The Hill, a Washington newspaper, reported earlier this year that Obama's campaign had reached out to lobbyists' networks to use their contacts to help build his fund-raising base.

This activity, along with Obama's past contributions from lobbyists and PACs, has drawn fire from opposing campaigns. Some political analysts say Obama, by casting himself as an uncorrupted good-government crusader, has set himself up for charges of hypocrisy.

"If you're running a campaign about credibility, that credibility and persona are so important you better be squeaky clean," said Richard Semiatin, a political scientist at American University. "While he's getting good traction out of this, I think in the long term he's really got to be careful."

From the day he entered the presidential race, Obama has projected an outside-the-Beltway persona, positioning himself as the Washington change agent that Americans are pining for. Last week, his campaign began running a new TV spot in Iowa, in which the narrator says, "He's leading by example, refusing contributions from PACs and Washington lobbyists who have too much power today."

Cogitate---this article deals specifically with the Wall St lobbyists that McCain employs. These lobbyists have one goal---to ensure favorable outcomes for Wall St. How can we trust someone to clean up Wall St, when he's been deregulating for decades and his team includes so many Wall St lobbyists?

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The influence of money and supporters with money.

And both are agents of change.

And we believe either of them, based on both sides of the coin presented here?

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