On his own, Kaine wel­comes lob­by­ist cash

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JIM MCELHATTON

For­mer Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair man Tim Kaine was asked dur­ing a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view last fall how Pres­i­dent Obama has changed Wash­ing­ton.

“Let me start with the DNC,” said the for­mer Vir­ginia gov­er­nor. “We don’t take PAC and lob­by­ist money.”

But Mr. Kaine does. On May 10, he spent more than an hour at Cor­ner­stone Gov­ern­ment Af­fairs LLC at a Capi­tol Hill cam­paign fundraiser. The lob­by­ing firm rep­re­sents some of the coun­try’s big­gest cor­po­ra­tions, in­clud­ing Wal-Mart, John­son & John­son, Gen­eral Dy­nam­ics and Boe­ing.

Say­ing he was run­ning late for an event, Mr. Kaine de­clined to dis­cuss the fundraiser as he walked into Cor­ner­stone on Tues­day evening. He re­ferred in­quiries to his cam­paign spokes­woman.

As DNC chair­man, Mr. Kaine of­ten noted that the party doesn’t take money from fed­eral lob­by­ists. Mr. Obama in­sisted on the ban in 2008.

“We turn away checks from PACs. We turn away checks from fed­eral lob­by­ists. That’s new for the DNC [. . . ] be­cause the Obama cam­paign did it and we want to be able to look our donors in the face and say, ‘Yeah, you’re an in­di­vid­ual. There’s room for you at the MSNBC.

A spokes­woman for Mr. Kaine con­firmed that he would ac­cept con­tri­bu­tions from lob­by­ists and po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees dur­ing his run for the Se­nate. The cam­paign also pointed out that be­fore Mr. Kaine be­came DNC chair­man, he ac­cepted con­tri­bu­tions from PACs and lob­by­ing sources dur­ing his 2005 cam­paign for Vir­ginia gov­er­nor.

“As a can­di­date, Gov. Kaine has al­ways wel­comed law­ful do­na­tions from any­one who shares his vi­sion for progress for Vir­ginia and the nation,” Kaine spokes­woman Brandi Hoffine wrote in an email on May 11. “No donors get spe­cial treat­ment and none are sec­ond class cit­i­zens.

“Though we ex­pect to be out­raised and out­spent by the other side in this race, just as we were in the 2005 race, we’ve put in place a plan that will pro­vide our cam­paign with the nec­es­sary re­sources to mobilize our grass­roots net­work of sup­port­ers and take our mes­sage of fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity, job cre­ation and bal­ance and ci­vil­ity across the Com­mon­wealth,” she wrote. “We feel good about our progress to­ward that goal so far.”

The non­par­ti­san Sun­light Foun­da­tion, which ob­tained an in­vi­ta­tion to the fundraiser, noted that its hosts in­cluded some prom­i­nent Demo­cratic lob­by­ists, in­clud­ing Paul Dinino, who was fi­nance di­rec­tor at the DNC

ta­ble,’ ” he

told un­der Pres­i­dent Clin­ton; Jeff Forbes, a for­mer staff di­rec­tor at the Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee; and Ed­die Ay­oob, a for­mer aide to Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat.

Over the past year, the firm has rep­re­sented dozens of clients seek­ing to in­flu­ence Congress and fed­eral agen­cies from com­pa­nies such as Microsoft and Pfizer to lesser-known or­ga­niza- tions such as the Na­tional Limou­sine As­so­ci­a­tion and the Na­tional Wild Tur­key Fed­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to Se­nate lob­by­ing dis­clo­sure re­ports.

For­mer Sen. Ge­orge Allen, who has an­nounced that he would be try­ing to re­cap­ture the seat he lost to Sen. Jim Webb, a Demo­crat, in 2006, hasn’t sworn off lob­by­ing or PAC money. Since be­ing voted out of of­fice, he has been run­ning a con­sult­ing firm that hired as its fed­eral lob­by­ist a for­mer aide to Mr. Allen.

But Mr. Kaine’s de­ci­sion to ac­cept do­na­tions from lob­by­ists and po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees puts him at odds with Mr. Obama, who or­dered the DNC to bar such con­tri­bu­tions when he be­came the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee in 2008.

Even as Mr. Obama named Mr. Kaine DNC chair­man in 2009, the pres­i­dent called for “shed­ding our in­grained habits of tak­ing money from fed­eral lob­by­ists and spe­cial in­ter­ests.” It’s a pol­icy Mr. Kaine dis­cussed in nu­mer­ous me­dia ap­pear­ances.

“Look, the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, all of our dol­lars come from in­di­vid­u­als,” Mr. Kaine said dur­ing an in­ter­view with MSNBC in Oc­to­ber. “We don’t raise money from cor­po­ra­tions, PACs or fed­eral lob­by­ists, and we’re rais­ing more money than we’ve ever raised in our his­tory for a midterm elec­tion.”

Mr. Kaine ex­pressed a more nu­anced po­si­tion when asked about Mr. Obama’s pro­hi­bi­tion of lob­by­ing con­tri­bu­tions dur­ing a 2008 in­ter­view with Char­lie Rose.

“I work with lob­by­ists and folks and PACs all the time in Vir­ginia,” Mr. Kaine said. “They’re not bad. But I think there’s a sense some­times in Wash­ing­ton that they kind of have a veto power over pol­icy ini­tia­tives.”

JIM MCELHATTON/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

We don’t but I do: “Let me start with the DNC,” for­mer Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Tim Kaine said last fall. “We don’t take PAC and lob­by­ist money.”

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