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Edwards Would Ban Lobbyists' Donations

Former North Carolina senator John Edwards (D) proposed Saturday banning lobbyists from contributing to federal campaigns, part of his growing effort to cast himself as the candidate to clean up the election system. He also said he would expand public financing of elections.

Describing the Democratic front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), as "the poster child for what's wrong in American politics today," Edwards said, "They talk about changing the system, then they conduct business as usual." He added that in the next election, "we're not going to have an auction, we're going to actually have an election."

Edwards, who trails Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in fundraising and national polls, said two weeks ago that he will take public matching funds in the presidential campaign. He called Saturday for an expansion of that program to include congressional candidates, and said he would reduce maximum contributions to $1,000 from the current $2,300.

He also said he would prohibit lobbyists from being "bundlers" -- gathering money for candidates from other donors.

-- Anne E. Kornblut

By Post Editor  |  October 13, 2007; 8:11 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , John Edwards  
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The question before us is not whether or not money is speech. It's whether or not those of us who don't give lots of money (or have connections,etc) are losing our speech.

Posted by: brownehn | October 18, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Response to 'peterdc'. You are correct. The constitution guarantees the bank president the right to vote...and the bank's janitor has the same right. One vote each. I see no mention of allowing, let alone guaranteeing, a vote for the American Banking Association. The power vested in monetary success bears no relationship to 'one person-one vote'.

Posted by: graurog | October 15, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Since Edwards is having a hard time raising money this is an easy thing for him to say.

The reality is we would have to ban money from more than just lobbyists for this to work.

Obama doesn't take money from federal lobbyists but recently we found out that he did take money from all the lawyers that work in the same office as a lobbyist. Most law firms have lobbying operations and if all the other partners contribute how different is that. They all get part of the proceeds from the money the lobbyist brings in.

I am sure if we look at all the lawyers who have contributed to Edwards we will find the same thing. He shouldn't be too pompous until he cleans his own house.

Again this is all really irrelevent. From which lobbyists do we not take money. From the ones representing seniors, teachers, unionists, nurses, drug companies, banks, etc. Would Edwards have turned down all the help from the SEIU if he could have gotten their endorsement. After all they have a huge lobbying operation.

Is it legal to ask for contributions from bank Presidents who as individuals can give them but not from the American Banking Association. Does what they want and the access it gets them any different?

How do we parse that pie? When someone can figure out a constitutional way to do that then let's have the discussion.

Meantime it is an issue that won't work for Edwards who took $50,000 to give a speech on poverty to a University audience and worked for a hedge fund and earned $500,000.

Posted by: peterdc | October 15, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

jroe23's point should not be lost on us. There are limits that can be placed on political $$$ contributions within the context of the first amendment, but prohibitions of assembly, association, speech, and press are generally subject to very few limitations as to content, along with rational limitations as to "time, place, and manner".

I do not suggest that we should not try to clean up government. I suggest the job is demanding, never-ending, and very difficult.

I think Edwards' suggestion would not survive constitutional muster.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 15, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That is the first amendment to the Constitution. It seems to me that lobbying is a constitutionally protected profession. Is that not one of the ways the people redress their greivances before government? Go ahead and keep up with the populist crap. It doesn't mean anything and I for one am tired of the demagoguery.(sp?)

Posted by: jroe23 | October 14, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Here is a starting point for looking at the most dangerous bundlers:

Edwards would make an excellent president. Sen. Biden is also a first-tier candidate ( But Kucinich says:

"Now the people in the Administration of George Bush better remember their Miranda rights, because when I'm elected President I'm going to see that they are arrested. I'm not kidding here! I want to let you know something; how I feel about what's happened to our country." We've seen our civil liberties taken away. The President, Oil Slick Dick, David Addington, John Yoo (Dr. Yes as Ashcroft calls him) are all part of this. Where is the accountability? What's happened is that our constitution is being torn up.

And we see, unfortunately, the failure of the Democratic Party to stand up to this Administration when an individual American is attacked with burglaries and much more by the omnipotent evil of the Bush organization.

Posted by: Open1 | October 14, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The comments of Paul Wertz of Oregon make more sense than anything else I have ever read re lobbying. We will NEVER get rid of lobbyists, but at the least their connections and conversations with elected official of ANY level, should be done in the sunshine. Pipe dream? Perhaps. But so was the colonies' rebellion against their British oppressors. And look where that led!!! Harry Ison. Bellingham, WA

Posted by: hcison | October 14, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It will take a gutsy president like a John Edwards to launch a preemptive strike on lobbyists and run them out of town. In the meantime, I'd like to see Congress set up a "glass room" where lobbyists would have to do all their lobbying in full view--with audio and video recordings of their attempts to influence/bribe our representatives. Lobbyists who made contact with elected officials or their representatives outside the glass room would go to prison where they could use their skills to lobby for extra portions of oatmeal. If our elected officials work for us, why shouldn't we be able to listen in on all conversations special interests insist on having with them?
Paul Wertz
Eugene, Oregon

Posted by: pbwertz | October 14, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Lincoln said, you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

Politicians and their lobbyists have realized then can exist and prosper exploiting notion number two, above.

Why not advance to proportional representation? Israel, Britain, India, and other leading democracies have governing figured better; the leader is elected via the parliament and every point of view is reflected by proportional parliament votes. Maybe then we will cease to be the government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations.

Posted by: lumpy1 | October 14, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Anybody who's followed the corrupt history of the 'Bush Pioneers' should be in favor of this proposal to get rid of bundlers. It's remarkable no other candidate is talking about this.

Posted by: sfmandrew | October 14, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

money is speech........corporations are persons.........

as long as this paradigm exists, no efforts to limit influence will succeed.

at the state level, corporate definitions and duties must be redefined to save us all.

how can a "person's" only reason for existence be "to maximize shareholder profits" without culpability or responsibility?

Posted by: gnphiker | October 14, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Stop all lobby activities at every level! Only real humans who are voters in a Congress person's district should be allowed to provide any material support and that should be limited to $2500 per person per election cycle, PERIOD!!

Posted by: Chaotician | October 14, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

The only way to clean it up is to ban lobbyists, PERIOD!

Posted by: morningglory51 | October 14, 2007 6:53 AM | Report abuse

So, is he trying to ban lobbyists from donating personal funds, or is this about their influence over others (which it seems to me is not feasible to regulate)? These people are citizens. They shouldn't be prevented from donating (under the limit) just as any other citizen.

Posted by: bwerbeloff | October 14, 2007 1:51 AM | Report abuse

THought our readers should know:

ARLINGTON, Va. - The U.S. mission in Iraq is a "nightmare with no end in sight" because of political misjudgments after the fall of Saddam Hussein that continue today, a former chief of U.S.-led forces* said Friday.

*Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez

Is the spin still in?

Posted by: chauncykat | October 13, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

64 lobbyists per Congressman/woman

Former Senator Bill Bradley spoke eloquently about the power of money in politics. He said there are 34,000 lobbyists in Washington DC; with 535 Reps and Senators in DC, that means an average of 64 lobbyists circling each legislator asking for a return on their investment in the campaign.

He said that politics is the only profession he knows of where you take money from strangers and pretend you don't owe them anything.

Voters are depressed, resigned, and some are furious that our voices are being drowned out by the vultures/lobbyists at every step in the process.

John Edwards, take back America. The people are with you.

Posted by: marsha.sompayrac | October 13, 2007 9:34 PM | Report abuse

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