Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lobbyist Games

Does Barack hire lobbyists to work on his campaign? Nope. They're too insidious to have around! They could corrupt the campaign!
The co-director of Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Puerto Rico is a Washington-based federal lobbyist for the government of Puerto Rico. Ethics watchdogs said that the high-profile role of Francisco J. Pavía appears to contradict the Obama campaign's ethics guidelines, which forbid federal lobbyists from working on staff.
Well, then. That's simple enough. Just let the New Kinda Politics People know about the mistake and it will be remedied.
But Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Pavía is an "active volunteer" -- not a paid staffer -- and can hold the job without running afoul of the campaign's rules.
Huh? You mean Mister Clean isn't sincere in his desire to keep lobbyists away from his organization? It's just a campaign ploy? It seems if you're a lobbyist, all you have to do to circumvent the ban is work for the campaign for free while collecting your lobbying paycheck, or take a leave of absence from your job while getting paid by the campaign.

Pavía is not on leave from his law firm, Winston & Strawn, according to the managing partner of its Washington office, Thomas L. Mills.

But he has been an important part of the Obama campaign in Puerto Rico, which holds its Democratic primary Sunday. Obama wrote to Puerto Rico's State Elections Commission in March to designate Pavía and Andres Lopez as "our local representatives" to the commission. In May, Pavía and Lopez signed a posting on Obama's campaign Web site that identified them as co-directors of the Puerto Rico effort and solicited volunteers.

Pavía has been a registered lobbyist for various arms of the Puerto Rican government since 2001, according to disclosure reports filed with the U.S. Senate. His firm's total compensation for lobbying for the commonwealth over that period was more than $3 million.

On the other hand...

Moses Mercado, a lobbyist for Ogilvy Government Relations in Washington, said in an interview that he was told by the Obama campaign that he must take an unpaid leave from his firm before working as a get-out-the-vote volunteer earlier this year.

"It was pretty clear," Mercado said. "It was so clear that I made sure I wrote a letter to our office manager saying that on these days I'm taking a leave of absence."

Later, after he said he received a call from Burton, Mercado said he had not been asked to take a leave.

Is the man from Hope not on the up and up?
"It sounds like a conflict with Obama's policy," said Melanie Sloan of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "They need to provide an explanation."
Ya think?
Burton said that Pavía's role with the campaign was permissible but that the rules were not airtight. "This is not a perfect solution to the influence of special interests in Washington," he said. "But it is a symbol of the effort that Senator Obama is going to make to decrease the influence that the special interests do have."
So Barack's whole lobbyist thing is confessed campaign fraud. He can't be held to any particular standard because the system is too corrupt, but he gets to hold McCain to an arbitrary standard that he creates - one that he says is only symbolic. Nice.

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