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First of Many Anti-Lobbyists TV Ads?

Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown (D), one of two Democrats seeking to unseat Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) in the fall, launched a television commercial today seeking to take advantage of the current public attitude toward lobbyists -- a move that likely presages similar efforts in competitive federal races across the country in the run-up to the 2006 midterm elections.

"Do you ever wonder why we're working harder to pay our bills, while the big oil and drug companies get away with record profits," Brown asks at the ad's start. "Here's the problem: There are over 34,000 lobbyists in Washington making sure the special interests get theirs -- and we get the bill."

Brown unveiled a lobbying reform proposal last month that would require lobbyists to file client disclosure firms monthly, extend the waiting period for former members of Congress and staffers to lobby their former colleagues and bring all lobbying under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department.

Brown pledges at the ad's close that "as your senator, I'll stand up to the Washington lobbyists, and do what's right for Rhode Islanders." Watch the ad on Brown's Web site.

The ad was produced by Matt MacWilliams of MacWilliams Robinson & Partners and is running on broadcast and cable networks in the state's only media market -- Providence. Brown's pollster, by the way, is Pete Brodnitz who handled Tim Kaine's successful '05 gubernatorial bid in Virginia and is new on Harold Ford Jr.'s Senate bid in Tennessee.

Brown and former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse are seeking the Democratic nomination. Chafee is being opposed in the GOP primary by Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey.

As the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal continues to play out in the national media, expect a number of 2006 campaign ads to center on how and why Washington's culture needs to be cleaned up. Polling continues to suggest that voters don't yet see the Abramoff saga in partisan terms, but Democrats are convinced that over time corruption in Congress will be a winning issue for them this year. However, stories like this one about Rep. Bill Jefferson (D-La.) may cloud that argument somewhat.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 12, 2006; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Linc is a decent moderate/liberal, but the brightest bulb he is not.

With the 2000 election the Senate went from having Kerry and Kerrey to just Kerry, and from no Nelsons to 2. In 2002 it went from having Gramm and Graham to 2 Grahams, and from 2 Smiths to 1. I wonder if 2006 will give the Senate 2 Browns (Sherrod-Ohio, Matt-RI) where it hasn't had one since Hank retired.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | January 13, 2006 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Hi, being from California I don't follow Rhode Island politics that closely and don't know either of the two main Democrats running against Sen. Chafee. However, to me it seems like Sec. of State Matt Brown is a very impressive nominee who would really run well in a blue state like Rhode Island and currently an holds elective state office. Why did the national Democratic party not either stay neutral or side with Sec. of State Matt Brown but chose instead to endorse the ex-Attorney General in Rhode Island who, to me has run a more passive and less impressive campaign? Does anybody here have any insight into this?

Posted by: Jason | January 12, 2006 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I hope Matt Brown wins the nomination and promptly ends the Chafee era in Rhose Island. Lincoln Chafee, Republican, is a good man but he is unable to escape the clutches of the WH when it comes time to vote in the Senate. Little Rhody needs a strong senator representing its interests in DC, and that senator is simply not Chafee. I wish Matt Brown the best of luck and look forward to voting for Brown.

Posted by: TK | January 12, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

the Rhode Island Democrat who thinks 34,000 lobbyists in Washington have a better chance of getting their legislation than Mr. John Q who contributes $25.00 a year is absolutely right but he is absolutely wrong to put make the attorney general the policeman. This just arms a partisan president like Bush with another way to hammer legislators and make the imperial presidency even more imperial.
Bush has proven the Executive has too much power and the Congress shows how weak they are
How about urging the local prosecutors to enforce the laws like Elliot Spitzer does and maybe an elected citizens committee to watch the prosecutors.
The founders designed a system that would accept the fact that power corrupts and they tried to erect checks and balances.

we have to keep working on the checks

Posted by: jim greene | January 12, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I've been following this race closely, and I can honestly say this is one of very few politicians that has a track record of actually living up to the "standing up to the special interests" talking points that so many campaigns use.

His campaign website is It should be a great race to watch.

Posted by: Providence RI | January 12, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

If I only had a dollar for everytime I saw a political ad that said, "I'll stand up to the Washington lobbyists, and do what's right."

Any member of congress who uses this line to get elected needs to have some kind of accountability when he/she runs for re-election. I want to know what gifts, dinners, trips anything you took from anyone.

Its way too late to trust these guys.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2006 2:57 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing in the constitution that guarantees the right to make a living from the activity of lobbying.

Anyone can lobby congress - go to your local representative's office, fly to DC, write a letter, make a phone call, send an email.

It needs to be illegal to accept anything other than your government paycheck when you are serving your nation in congress.

Those who serve their country need no other incentive... if they don't make enough, then double their pay.

Gifts, meals, checks, flights, travel, hotels, books, socks, puppies, flowers, tickets, access to events, or anything else of value should all be illegal to give to a politician in any forum, for any reason. EVEN THEIR BIRTHDAY.

Representation by a 3rd party is legal in the judiciary... its called "hiring a lawyer". Mercenary representation on the hill is the cause of corruption today and is unsupported by the constitution.

We were all born with one mouth to speak with... but some folks apparently can gather millions of "george washingtons" to do their speaking for them... MONEY IS NOT SPEECH.

Posted by: Voting American | January 12, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

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