Barack's pledge is more than a bit phony. By "lobbyists," Obama means only those who are federally registered as having lobbied Congress. That definition doesn't include in-house lobbyists, state lobbyists, or spouses of lobbyists (several of which have contributed). It doesn't cover people like me who lobby Executive Branch or "independent" agencies.1 And it doesn't extend to law firm partners who share in the revenues generated by their lobbyist partners' efforts.
How much does that matter? Lots, according to this week's Legal Times:
The polls aren’t the only thing favoring Sen. Barack Obama: D.C.’s top law firms have given the Democratic presidential nominee more than triple the cash they’ve donated to Republican Sen. John McCain.So, I hear you say, what about lawyers outside the Beltway? Well, they also skew 3:1 for Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (approx. $28 million for Obama; $9 million for McCain).
Big D.C. firms typically skew blue, but the divide is even wider than it was four years ago, when Sen. John Kerry and former Sen. John Edwards, a prominent former trial lawyer, made up the Democratic ticket. So far this election cycle, Washington-area lawyers and staff from the D.C. 20--Legal Times’ ranking of the District’s highest-grossing law offices--have given roughly $1.5 million to Obama and $450,000 to McCain. The Obama contributions already dwarf the $936,000 given by D.C. 20 firms to the Kerry-Edwards ticket at this point in 2004. The 2004 Republican ticket--led by President George W. Bush--had collected $483,000 during the same period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. . .
Plaintiffs firms are another source of cash for Obama. They’ve typically favored Democratic candidates who have opposed Republican-backed efforts at tort reform. In 2004, prominent members of the plaintiffs bar rallied especially strongly around the Democratic ticket, partially thanks to Edwards. Plaintiffs lawyers played high-profile roles for Edwards’ 2004 and 2008 presidential bids.
The Legal Times lists the top D.C. and other lawyer contributors, grouped by law firm:
source: October 13th Legal Times
I'm not arguing against the right of a lawyer--like any other citizen--to support a candidate.2 I'm just arguing against hypocritical artifice.
1 By any laymans' definition, I lobby for a living. I have lobbied Congress in the past, and properly registered for those periods. But not recently, and accordingly am not now registered. So I could contribute to the Democrats: Obama's exclusion doesn't apply to former lobbyists.
2 Indeed, how could I?--I work for a firm whose lawyers gave more to McCain than lawyers from any other DC firm, and whose lead partner is "a national co-chairman of Lawyers for McCain."