April 3, 2012

Koch Lobbyist Helps Fund Obama’s SuperPAC

President Obama ran for office on a pledge to refuse donations from lobbyists and to clean up the outside industry money that continually pollutes American elections. Obama’s recent decision to embrace Super PACs undercuts both promises. That is because Super PACs can collect unlimited corporate and lobbyist contributions. And donations to Obama’s preferred Super PAC, Priorities USA, might already cause problems for the President’s campaign and his once-strong reformer image.

There have been previous reports that suggest Obama’s Super PAC donations will influence his behavior. As we noted, on the heel of this decision, Obama’s campaign manager met privately with hedge fund managers to promise that Obama would not demonize Wall Street or wage a populist campaign.

But a closer look at Obama’s Super PAC reveals that the reversal may have other immediate political ramifications. While the Obama campaign has targeted the Koch brothers for their secretive efforts to manipulate the election this year, it appears a Koch lobbyist is helping to fund Obama’s Super PAC. According to disclosures filed with the FEC, David Castagnetti, a high powered Democratic lobbyist who is on retainer to lobby for Koch Industries, donated $5,000 to Priorities USA:

Koch Lobbyist Helps Fund Obama's SuperPAC
This donation doesn’t suggest that somehow the Obama administration is already in bed with the Koch brothers. But it goes to show that the decision to welcome lobbyist cash comes with ugly associations. And it underscores a greater problem: as lobbyists donate more and more to Obama, it becomes harder for Obama to make the case that he’s on the side of clean government.

Unless we’re willing to challenge the broken system in Washington, and stop letting lobbyists use their clout to get their way, nothing else is going to change.