Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is the clear front-runner in picking up support from lobbyists at some of K Street’s most profitable firms, according to a report released last week by First Street Research Group.
That’s based on the number of lobbyists in those firms who are advising Romney’s campaign, collecting or “bundling” contributions for him, and contributing money to the campaign. First Street, the political intelligence unit of CQ Press, compiled data from Federal Election Commission filings and conducted independent research on individual lobbyists who Romney and Rick Santorum have named campaign advisers. Santorum has not listed any bundlers.
“Every candidate received some support from K Street,” the report said. “With their dollars, advice and endorsements, K Street definitely lined up in support of one candidate — Mitt Romney.”
Some highlights from the report:
Dutko has one former lobbyist serving as a Romney campaign adviser, two lobbyists bundling contributions for his campaign and seven lobbyists contributing to the campaign.
DLA Piper has two lobbyists bundling contributions and four lobbyists contributing to the campaign.
Ogilvy has two lobbyists bundling for Romney and three lobbyists contributing to the campaign.
Podesta has one lobbyist serving as a campaign adviser and four lobbyists contributing to the campaign.
“These firms are positioning themselves for a Romney presidency,” said Alex Bronstein-Moffly, the report’s author and lead researcher. “They stand to gain the most future access and have stronger relationships with the campaign.”
Representatives at those four firms either declined to comment or did not immediately return requests for comment. A spokesperson for the Romney campaign did not comment specifically on the report, saying only that “people who support Gov. Romney’s campaign do so because they support his agenda to create jobs and get the economy back on the right track.”
First Street did not release a similar report on Obama’s connections to lobbying firms, but Bronstein-Moffly said the group is planning on doing a similar analysis once the Republican nomination is settled. The Obama campaign has said it would not accept campaign contributions from federally registered lobbyists, but many of the 444 individuals who bundle contributions for the president — though not registered lobbyists themselves — have close ties to lobbying firms or oversee lobbying groups within large corporations, including the CEO of MWW Group (which employed seven lobbyists as of 2011) and the heads of government affairs at Comcast and Pfizer.
The Obama administration has long been an outspoken opponent of K Street’s influence in Washington and issued new restrictions and rules on lobbying. But last October, the re-election campaign hired Broderick Johnson, a former lobbyist for AT&T, to serve as an adviser. Since then, Biden has hired former lobbyist Steve Ricchetti as counselor to the vice president, and Obama has brought on Cecilia Muñoz, a former lobbyist for National Council of La Raza, as domestic policy adviser. A spokesperson for the campaign declined to comment for this story.
Though it’s been widely noted that 22 lobbyist bundlers have raised nearly $3 million for the Romney campaign, last week’s report focuses on who among Romney’s campaign advisers have ties to lobbying firms, Bronstein-Moffly said. Ten current and former lobbyists (three are current lobbyists; seven are former lobbyists) are directly affiliated with the Romney campaign as advisers and staffers, the report found.
Santorum appears to be receiving far less backing from lobbyists. Only three former lobbyists (two who lobbied in 2011) are directly affiliated with his campaign, and he has received 21 contributions from lobbyists — compared to 304 contributions from lobbyists to Romney, the report found. A Santorum campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Republican lobbyist David Urban of American Continental Group is one of two lobbyists at the firm bundling contributions for Santorum. But the contributions weren’t about positioning the firm to benefit, he said.
“My check was dated far, far in advance of him being where he is now,” Urban said. “I supported Santorum because he’s been a friend and someone I’ve believed in for a long time”