There’s been a lot written about Sen. Dodd’s claim that he’s been rather hard on the poor lobbyists (you can watch a video his campaign put out here–you may want to turn the sound down if you’re at work and don’t want people thinking you’re hiding a baby in your cubicle). Dodd’s campaign not only produced the video, but sent around an email (you can see it here) saying that:
The lobbyists can’t get meetings with Chris. He won’t return their phone calls. He even yells at them during hearings. Whether they’re lobbyists for the financial industry or health care companies, Chris just isn’t giving them the time of day.
Those poor lobbyists! “No one’s meeting with Dodd,” they complain. “He certainly isn’t doing things to cater to the K Street crowd.” Isn’t that a shame?
The Simmons campaign and the NRSC fired off blistering responses. The Simmons campaign accused Dodd of raising an awful lot of money from lobbyists, citing an article from NPR, which reported Dodd attending a fundraiser hosted by health care lobbyists in between meetings to craft health care policy. The NRSC thought the whole thing was a “joke,” and today has called on the Dodd campaign to return all lobbyist and PAC money.
So what’s the truth, here?
Ted Mann at The Day reports on Dodd’s fundraising, and finds that:
Dodd, a five-term veteran of the Senate, also racked up more than $456,000 in contributions from political committees connected to big business, many with serious interest in matters currently before the Congress.
Some of the PACs were those of major health insurance companies, like Blue Cross and New York Life.
In fact, in an embarrassing blunder, Dodd’s staff neglected to remove all the lobbyists from their fundraising email list before sending out the anti-lobbyist email. One irate lobbyist sent the email to the New York Times with the appropriate tag:
“Can you believe this idiot is sending this to lobbyists?”
However, the actual email was based on real lobbyists complaining that they could not get a meeting with Dodd (this is from an article in Roll Call from about a month ago).
I’d guess that the truth here is less cut-and-dried than either side would like us to believe. Dodd is obviously raising money from lobbyists. What’s unclear is how much (or how little) influence they have over the crafting of health care legislation. Expect this to become an issue next year.