Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 12 February 2016

Friday Tricks - DNC rolls back a ban on contributions from federal lobbyists and political action committees -

Friday Tricks - DNC rolls back a ban on contributions from federal lobbyists and political action committees - 

The Democratic National Committee has rolled back restrictions introduced by presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 that banned donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees.

The decision, which may provide an advantage to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, was viewed with disappointment Friday morning by good government activists who saw it as a step backward in the effort to limit special interest influence in Washington.

“It is a major step in the wrong direction,” said longtime reform advocate Fred Wertheimer. “And it is completely out of touch with the clear public rejection of the role of political money in Washington,” expressed during the 2016 campaign.

The change in the rules, already apparent to leading Washington lobbyists, was quietly introduced at some point during the past couple of months.

The ban was both a symbolic and substantive way for Obama to put his stamp on the party in 2008 when he promised voters “we are going to change how Washington works.”

Since it was introduced, lobbyists and corporate advocates in Washington have complained about the ban and other limitations imposed by Obama. The only portion of the old rules now remaining in place is that lobbyists and PAC representatives will still not be able to attend events that feature Obama, Vice President Biden or their spouses, according to Mark Paustenbach, deputy communications director for the DNC.

“The DNC’s recent change in guidelines will ensure that we continue to have the resources and infrastructure in place to best support whoever emerges as our eventual nominee,” Paustenbach said in an email. “Electing a Democrat to the White House is vital to building on the progress we’ve made over the last seven years, which has resulted in a record 71 straight months of private-sector job growth and nearly 14 million new jobs.”

Last summer the DNC announced it was lifting a ban on lobbyist contributions to convention-related expenses. At the time, DNC officials said the move was necessary because Congress had eliminated about $20 million in federal funding for the quadrennial party gatherings.

The DNC’s recent, sweeping reversal of the previous ban on donations from lobbyists and political action committees was confirmed by three Democratic lobbyists who said they have already received solicitations from the committee. The lobbyists requested anonymity to speak freely about the committee’s decision, which has been otherwise kept quiet.

For the most part, they said, the DNC is back to pre-2008 business as usual. The DNC has even hired a finance director specifically for PAC donations who has recently emailed prospective donors to let them know that they can now contribute again, according to an email that was reviewed by The Washington Post.

The decision is the latest move likely to inflame tensions between the DNC and supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who has railed against lobbyist influence, particularly those representing Wall Street.

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has set up a joint fundraising committee with the DNC and the new rules are likely to provide her with an advantage.

The new rules have already opened up opportunities for influence-buying “by Washington lobbyists with six-figure contributions to the Hillary Victory Fund,” said Wertheimer, suggesting that lobbyists could also face “political extortion” from those raising the money.

Sanders has made his small-dollar-infused campaign a hallmark of his stump speech, boasting that he is the candidate of the little guy, to the point where supporters in Iowa could finish the portion of his stump speech in which he crowed that the average donation was $27.

In recent months Sanders’s supporters have accused the DNC of trying to prevent more primary debates, trying to tilt the race in Clinton’s direction. Just this week his backers were enraged that the DNC allowed the senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus to use the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters to announce that their PAC had endorsed Clinton over Sanders.

Sanders backers have also expressed concern that the DNC is not playing a more vigorous role in checking out disputes over voting in the recent Iowa caucuses, which Clinton narrowly won.


Hillary Clinton’s top six campaign officials are all White Guys -

Hillary Clinton’s top six campaign officials are all White Guys - 

As Hillary Clinton’s campaign looks to the black vote in South Carolina to fend off Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)16%
’ momentum, a look at her staff list reveals an exclusively white leadership team mostly comprised of white males. In fact, her top six campaign officials are all white guys.

Perhaps black leaders in South Carolina should take a look at the Clinton 2016 team before making endorsements in the coming days ahead of the February 27 primary. Let’s break it down:

Chairman:  John Podesta

Podesta served as chief of staff in the Bill Clinton White House during the impeachment crisis, and went on to found the left-wing propaganda organ The Center for American Progress. He also started up the lobbying firm The Podesta Group with his brother Tony. Podesta, 67, also happens to be a white male who went to law school at Georgetown.

Campaign manager:  Robby Mook

Mook, like Podesta, is a man of Caucasian descent. Mother Jones recently called Mook “Clinton’s Secret Weapon in Nevada” who “could launch her comeback.” Mook headed Clinton’s 2008 effort in Nevada against Barack Obama. Mook, 36, grew up in Vermont, the son of a Dartmouth professor, and went to college at Columbia.

Chief Strategist:  Joel Benenson

Benenson, 63, serves as Clinton’s chief strategist despite being a white male from New York City. He’s mostly been a corporate consultant and also served as a strategist for Obama in 2008. The impending Clinton staff changes will actually give Benenson more power over the strategy team.

Media Advisor:  Jim Margolis

Another former Obama adviser, Margolis joined Team Clinton last year and is now one of her most senior advisers. He previously worked for fellow white people Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)2%
, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)2%
, John Kerry and Walter Mondale. White-haired Margolis’ blue eyes are now focused on helping Clinton to overcome the Sanders Surge. When the campaign is over, maybe he’ll finally have some time to help out with Oberlin College alumni events.

Pollsters:  John Anzalone and David Binder

Anzalone is a white man who used to work for Obama in 2008 and has worked with James Carville and Paul Begala. His Clinton campaign teammate David Binder is also a white man.

In addition to these senior staffers, Clinton’s communications team is stunningly white. When reporters need to get in contact with the Clinton campaign, they have to go through travelling press secretary Nick Merrill, a white man who also worked for her in 2008. White male Brian Fallon also serves as a spokesman, and Jen Palmieri, a Caucasian woman, is the communications director.

Clinton lost big to Sanders with white voters and young women in New Hampshire, where she still ended up with more delegates despite her staggering vote loss. Though she leads Sanders with black voters in South Carolina, Al Sharpton’s decision to campaign with Sanders and Sanders press secretary Symone Sanders’ concerted effort to appeal to the “Black Lives Matter” contingent could still swing the race.

Read more -