Many major Democratic presidential candidates pledged not to take special-interest money — but, with a raft of loopholes, the money is still pouring in.
April 17 2019, 5:27 p.m.
All of the Democratic presidential candidates have committed to rejecting the influence of special interests. To demonstrate their resolve, several of the candidates have promised to power their White House ambitions without a single dollar of lobbyist money.
In the waves of small-dollar donations reported on Monday — the first financial disclosure reporting period of the 2020 presidential race — lobbyist money had made its way into the coffers of major candidates’ campaigns.
Beto O’Rourke is one of the candidates who had pledge to run a campaign financed only by regular people — “not PACs, not lobbyists, not corporations, and not special interests.” His latest filing, however, shows that he accepted donations from a federal utility-company lobbyist and a top Chevron lobbyist in New Mexico.
Some lobbyist cash comes from individuals who are clearly lobbyists but have chosen not to register with a federal system rife with loopholes.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has also collected donations from registered corporate lobbyists in South Carolina, New York, and California. Several technology lobbyists from San Francisco have given to her campaign. Another Harris donor, Robert Crowe, from the firm, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, is a federal lobbyist who has worked to influence Congress on behalf of pipeline firm EQT Corporation and Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., similarly announced that he would eschew campaign donations from federal lobbyists, and his campaign appears to be making most of the caveat about “federal” lobbyists. Though he has returned donations from lobbyists registered under the federal government’s system, Booker has taken half a dozen donations from lobbyists registered under state and municipal lobbyist registration laws, but who do not appear in federal disclosures.