Thursday, February 07, 2008


The following quotes are from the official websites of the respective leading candidates for president. They appear in their Issues section under ethics.

John McCain
“The American people have been alienated from the process of self-government by the overwhelming appearance of their elected leaders having sold-out to the big-moneyed special interests who help finance political campaigns.”

Barack Obama - Plan to Change Washington
“I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. I have done more than any other candidate in this race to take on lobbyists — and won. They have not funded my campaign, they will not get a job in my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president.”
Barack Obama, Speech in Des Moines, IA, November 10, 2007

Sounds great doesn’t it? They seem to have a handle on the dangers of special interest funding, lobbyist influence and all the evils of money in campaigns. Both often use the issue when speaking on the campaign trail. But are their warnings about the evil influence of special interest money real? Let’s see.

By the end of 2007 candidates had raised the following money for their campaigns:

Hillary Clinton $115,652,361
Barack Obama $102,170,668
John McCain $41,102,178
Mitt Romney $88,499,686

A lot happened since January 1 and to give you the highlights Barack Obama raised $32 million in January, then another $6 million after Super Tuesday. Clinton raised $13.5 million in January including $5 of her own money loaned to her campaign. No figures are available for the Republicans though reports are that McCain contributions have been heavy since his Super Tuesday wins.

So Barack is now the kingpin of all money raising and McCain is now the leading GOP fundraiser for the moment. Where do these two pillars of ethics stand when it comes to special interest money, the evil influence according to them?

Information collected by The Center for Responsive Politics shows that through the end of 2007 the following money had been raised by the campaigns.

From Lawyers
Clinton $11,756,493
Obama $9,521,441
McCain $2,508,185
Romney $2,433,054

From Securities & Investment Firms
Clinton $5,829,999
Obama $5,295,884
Romney $4,141,812
McCain $2,134,033

From Goldman Sachs
Obama $421,763
Clinton $407,561
Romney $223,925
McCain $85,252

From Lehman Brothers
Obama $250,630
Clinton $237,270
Romney $137,450

From Health Professionals
Clinton $2,313,527
Obama $1,720,252
Romney $1,182,401
McCain $713,952

From TV, Movies & Music
Clinton $2,641,724
Obama $2,526,326
McCain $442,366
Romney $227,495

From Banks
Clinton $1,119,982
Obama $1,017,200
Romney $716,601
McCain $620,673

From Pharmaceutical & Health
Clinton $349,270
Obama $337,525
Romney $318,226
McCain $97,597

From Oil & Gas
Romney $375,263
Clinton $268,562
McCain $229,958
Obama $132,115

Well perhaps you now get the idea and can see which candidates were the special interest favorites through the end of 2007. Many of these groups held back money for this year and you can bet as the number of candidates dropped the concentration of money will increase.

As for the populist attacks by Obama and McCain on special interests and lobbyists, which most people consider one and the same, they certainly rank high on the list of special interest favorites for such forceful critics. The truth is no politician should make a big deal out of this ethical issue as no one can win the election without the special interest money. Catch 22 in the world of politics.

One of my favorite Democrat orators said it best.

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