Dems Hitting McCain Hard on Lobbyist Ties

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Democrats began today what is sure to become a long-term campaign of attacking McCain for his ties to lobbyists. Democrats seek to target McCain’s reliance on lobbyists for fund raising and, frequently, upper-level staffing.

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The Democratic National Committee launched a strategy today of using images—always tinged deep Republican red—to disseminate the idea that McCain is owned by big oil. One such image, a fake check for $2 million from “Exxon and friends” comes on the heels of some suspicious donations from Hess employees.

The campaign finance watchdog group, Public Campaign Action Fund, also piled on today, launching a website dedicated to cataloging McCain’s lobbyist ties.

Of course, Public Campaign Action Fund may not be as totally nonpartisan as they claim. Major donors include billionaire Democratic activist George Soros and the group Campaign to Defend America, which is run by MoveOn.org co-founder Wes Boyd and Tom Matzzie. Matzzie is—wait for it—a lobbyist, having worked for MoveOn.org as well America Coming Together and Media Fund. The Washington Post described the latter two as “outside-the-party” Democratic groups.

There’s also McCain’s record. He may still rely on the lobbyists Obama goes without, and the implications of his lobbyist ties remain severe and real, but he did co-sponsor the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. Better know as McCain-Feingold, the law was an historic blow to lobbyist tactics like soft money and buying political ads. The law is also the reason why political candidates must state “I’m so-and-so, and I approve this message” in every ad. McCain may not be Obama when it comes to independence from lobbyists, but he’s not George W. Bush, either.

—Max Fisher

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