July 10, 2012

State Political Parties Dominated By Lobbyists

State Political Parties Dominated By LobbyistsPolls show an overwhelming majority of Americans view lobbyist and big money influence as the main problem in our politics today. But the two major political parties, on both the state and federal level, have done little to substantively reform the system.

Republic Report interns Nick Lyell and Mehrad Yazdi took a look at the state party chairs of all fifty states, and found that a surprising number of both Democrats and Republican party chairs are themselves lobbyists:

— In Delaware, the Democratic and Republican Party chairs are registered lobbyists. Democratic Party chairman John D. Daniello is registered to lobby for a labor union and a contractor association, and Republican Party chairman John Charles Sigler is registered to lobby for a National Rifle Association affiliate in the state.

— In Hawaii, both party chairs have connections to the influence industry. Democratic Party Chair Dante Keala Caprenter is a member of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and a former public affairs executive with Carbon Diversion Inc. He owns a “legislative consulting firm” called Carpenter & Carpenter Inc. Republican Party Chair David Chang is on the board of several lobbying associations, including the Builders Industry Association of Hawaii and the local state Chamber.

— West Virginia takes the cake as the state with political party leaders in bed with the lobbyist industry. Democratic Party chair Larry Puccio is a registered lobbyist working on issues from advertising to infrasteucture and gaming. He represents Charles Town Races and Slots, First Energy Service Company, Frontier Communications Corp., and Greenbrier Resort, among others. West Virginia GOP boss Mike Stuart is not a registered lobbyist, but is an integral member of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the big business lobby federation in the state.

— In Nebraska, the Republican Party chair is Mark Fahleson, a registered lobbyist with Abengoa Bioenergy Corp. In Nevada, Republican Party chair Michael McDonald is registered to lobby for Alpha Omega Strategies LLC.

— In Virginia, Democratic Party chair Brian Moran, the brother of Congressman Jim Moran, is a top lobbyist for the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the trade association for for-profit colleges — a conflict that Republic Report has addressed several times. Despite his role as a high-ranking Democratic official, Moran has helped his industry lobby against President Obama’s efforts on higher education. Last week, APSCU announced that Moran would step down in August.

— Ohio GOP party chief Bob Bennett is a registered lobbyist. In Oklahoma, Repulican Party chair Matt Pinnell doubles as the political action committee director for the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons. The North Dakota Democratic Party chair is a former lobbyist for the American Hospital Association.