Friday, February 12, 2016

DNC lifts ban on contributions from federal lobbyists to give advantage to Clinton’s fundraising efforts

Christine Chaplik, Feb 12, 2016

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has lifted restrictions introduced by presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008 that banned donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees, The Washington Post reported. The change was quietly introduced the change during the past couple of months.

Last summer the DNC first announced it was lifting a ban on lobbyist contributions to convention-related expenses. By lifting the ban, the DNC has returned to business as usual, pre-2008. They even employed a finance director specifically for PAC donations who has recently emailed prospective donors to inform them that they can now contribute again, The Washington Post reported. On condition of anonymity, three Democratic lobbyists told The Washington Post that they have already received solicitations from the committee.      

Good government activists are likely to view the decision as a step backward in the effort to limit special interest influence in Washington. Some even suggested that the decision would provide an advantage to Hillary Clinton’s fundraising efforts.   

Reformers object that the change would affect Washington ethics. A prominent reform advocate Fred Wertheimer said, “It is a major step in the wrong direction….. And it is completely out of touch with the clear public rejection of the role of political money in Washington.”

Clinton and the DNC have set up a joint fundraising committee called the Hillary Victory Fund, which raised $26.9 million through the end of 2015. Her megadonors includes Sanders has similar fundraising committee which raised only $1,000 so far. 

Fred Wertheimer said, they [the changes] provide opportunities for “influence-buying by Washington lobbyists with six-figure contributions to the Hillary Victory Fund,”

The lifting of ban could further escalate tensions between the DNC and supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, as Sanders has fought against the influence of lobbyists, particularly those representing Wall Street, his entire life. Sanders’ supporters often accuse DNC for having biased behavior favoring Clinton.  

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