Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who has made a fight against corporate special interests a centerpiece of his front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, has raised more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years, federal records show.
Kerry has been a vociferous critic of Bush's contributions from lobbyists, especially those in the energy industry and pharmaceuticals, implying that Bush's policies are being dictated by those companies. Of his own collections from lobbyists, however, the Kerry campaign says:
"Senator Kerry has taken individual contributions from lobbyists, but that has not stopped him from fighting against special interests on behalf of average Americans," said Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "If anyone thinks a contribution can buy Kerry's vote, then they are wasting their money."
Cutter said her boss would have no problem fighting Bush on the issue because "Kerry has spent his career fighting against special interests, while Bush has never met a special interest he doesn't like. While Kerry was fighting to keep oil companies from drilling in ANWR [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge], the White House was inviting them in to tea."
Because, you know, Democrats are so much more honest than Republicans. </sarcasm>
Kerry's rivals are given ample time to pound him in the article; both the Dean and Clark campaigns were asked for statements, and two watchdog groups get their jabs in as well.
In any case, it's ridiculous to bash "special interest groups", because all groups are special interest groups. Groups are founded for some reason or another, and (presumably) give money to a candidate because his or her views are congruent with the ideology of the group. Money can influence someone, but most of the more famous political waffles have nothing to do with campaign contributions.
posted on February 01, 2004 02:50 AM
This goes to the crux of the campaign finance reform hysteria in this country in recent years. It has long been my contention that the money goes to support those candidates that are committed to support the money's interest, while the reformers claim that the candidates are for sale.
Although some reformers (John McCain) claim that they know the truth because they themselves were for sale. In McCain's case, I am inclined to believe him. But as much as I disrespect politicians, I do not believe that most of them are for sale. (At least not for the puny amounts of cash that seem to be available)
I remember back to the Abscam case, where they caught a few pols taking money (I know that I am dating myself here). They never caught any of those pols actually doing anything after they got the money. Harrison "Pete" Williams, Senator from Pennsylvania, sure looked guilty when he was taped taking an attache case full of cash, but the judge would not allow the defense to present evidence that Pete never did anything to deserve the cash.
Of course he wouldn't allow that evidence... they wanted a conviction, and they got one. Poor, misunderstood Pete.