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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 01/ 9/2008

Lobbyists for Mitt

By Michael Dobbs


On the campaign trail, N.H.

"I don't have years and years of favors to repay, lobbyists who have raised all sorts of money for me."

--Mitt Romney, Nashua, N.H., Jan. 7, 2008.


Over the last week, Mitt Romney has retooled his campaign to present himself as the outsider who can fix Washington. Borrowing from Barack Obama's winning playbook, he depicts himself as a "change" agent who can go head to head with the insiders. While it is true that he has financed his campaign partly out of the millions he made as a management consultant, it is not true that he has no "favors to repay." In fact, some of his key supporters in his 2008 presidential run happen to be Washington lobbyists.


The Facts

A search of campaign finance disclosure records show that at least 13 "bundlers" for Romney are also federally registered lobbyists. Several of these people have been active in Republican fund-raising circles for years, and would certainly be in line to play a prominent role in any future Romney administration.

Perhaps the most prominent example of an uber-lobbyist turned Romney adviser is Ronald C. Kaufman, chairman of Dutko Worldwide, one of the leading "government affairs" companies in the country. Kaufman is a top fundraiser for Romney, and a co-chair of his Massachusetts steering committee. A longtime adviser to Republican presidents, beginning with George H.W. Bush, he joined Dutko in 1994. According to his Dutko biography, he helped to expand Dutko's business into all 50 states, and is now establishing an overseas operation, Dutko Global Advisers.

Other Dutko lobbyists who are part of the Romney team include Dutko president Craig Pattee and senior vice president Lee Cowen. Pattee is also a member of his education policy advisory group.

Then there is Vincent Weber, a founder of the influential Washington consulting firm Clark & Weinstock, whose clients have included Microsoft, Edison Electric, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, PhRMA. Weber also serves as Romney's policy chairman. Is it a coincidence that in the debate in Manchester, N.H., Romney jumped to the defense of the pharmaceutical companies, telling John McCain that he should not turn them into "the bad guys?"

"They're trying to create products to make us well and make us better, and they're doing the work of the free market," Romney enthused.

Exactly how much money these people have raised for Romney cannot be determined from his financial disclosure documents, said Steven Weissman of the Campaign Finance Institute, a non-profit group that seeks to shed light on campaign finance. Unlike several other leading candidates, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Rudy Giuliani, Romney has not provided any information about how much money his individual bundlers have raised.

"People are supporting him for various reasons," said Weissman. "One of the reasons is they think they will have access to him and hope to have influence in his administration."

The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Other bundler-lobbyists for Romney include:

  • Scott Baugh, chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County

  • Alberto Cardenas, a prominent Cuban-American, founder of a Miami-based lobbying firm, and member of Romney's Latin American advisory group.

  • Jack Gerard, president of the American Chemistry Council.

  • The Pinocchio Test

    Romney is clearly exaggerating his outsider status. He is wrong to say that he does not "owe favors" to lobbyists who have been raising money for his campaign. Whether he chooses to repay the favors is another matter, of course.

    (About our rating scale.)

    By Michael Dobbs  | January 9, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
    Categories:  2 Pinocchios, Candidate Record, Candidate Watch  
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    Comments

    You have presented an excellent confirmation of Mitt Romney's leadership skill to pick and choose the best minds in the country to assist him in his campaign for POTUS. The so-called lobbyist' that want Mitt Romney to be the next POTUS have donated money to his campaign. They are NOT lobbying for favors and Mitt Romney does not owe anyone any special favors when he becomes our POTUS.

    Posted by: FromTheTop | January 9, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

    Hey, From the Top: Whatever you are drinking (or smoking) - I want some of it! I also want to hallucinate.

    Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

    Please note that Steve Weissman is at the Campaign Finance Institute, which partnered with Public Citizen on the bundling report.

    Posted by: CFI | January 9, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

    CFI, I have made the correction. Thanks.

    Posted by: The Fact Checker | January 9, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

    If Mike Huckabee had made racial comments about a leading black candidate or sexist comments about a leading female candidate, he would have been castigated by the media. How he was able to launch his surge on religious bigotry is dumbfounding to me. It seems that everyone is oblivious to the obvious.

    In the event that Mitt Romney does not win the nomination, then history will show that Mike Huckabee pulled off the political crime of the century. It was Mike Huckabee that raised religious issues among Iowa evangelicals by comments toward Romney's religion.

    As Huckabee's tactics started to show in the Iowa polls, Mitt responded with his "Faith in America" speech. Romney was then forced to work on damage control. Romney's efforts in Iowa payed off and he continued to rise back in the polls but the damage gave him a second in a state he held firmly until Huckabee's misuse of the public forum.

    McCain saw his window and concentrated on New Hampshire while Romney was being unduely "occupied" in Iowa. Romney was forced to agressively address things detracting from what his positive messaging had been and did so famously. Romney then relied on comparison ads to contrast differences. These ads were constantly referred to as "attack ads" by Huckabee, who continually portrayed him as "desperate", and "attacking".

    Now Huckabee is able to capitalize on such tactics. Because of his use of the majority evangelical state of Iowa and with the ignorance of the media toward the Mormon religion, he flew under the radar of a nation that has worked since Lincoln to erase such bigotry.

    A majority of the nation now sees only that Mike Huckabee won the Iowa caucus and know nothing of the back story. I think it important to present it. Observe for yourself and pass these perspectives along. We need a TRUE man for change and a proven record of turning things around in the oval office.

    Vote Mitt Romney

    Posted by: Kelly Warnick | January 9, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

    Will we see the same report on McCain, Huckabee, Hillary, Obama, or is this just a single attack on Romney. If I rememember the discusion between the Gov an the Reporter, who I still think was rude, the question was "running his campaign" not donations. Where is the follow up of the meeting on the Gov's plane, between the reporter an the Gov where he was to explain his campaigns breakdown of who does what. Since Reporters are considered lower then car salesman, my guess they silly over coverage of this incident will be more helpful to the Gov.

    Posted by: homjett | January 18, 2008 11:31 PM | Report abuse

    The only reason for being for lobbyists is to bribe politicians to push their agendas. It is way past time for the voters of this country to demand that politicians eliminate lobbyists.

    Posted by: Charles | January 19, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

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    Posted by: akrbrenrhb | February 24, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

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