For a candidate who has based much of his campaign on running as an outsider to President Barack Obama and Washington, Mitt Romney’s campaign sure depends a lot on lobbyists.
These lobbyists have done everything for the campaign from directly donating money to him to “bundling” donations from others to serving as advisers.
For instance, nearly 300 registered lobbyists gave the campaign just over $400,000 through the end of 2011. Sixteen top “bundlers”, including supporters of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and tobacco company Altria (NYSE:MO), raised $2 million for the campaign.
In addition, lobbyists for companies ranging from Walmart (NYSE:WMT) to AT&T (NYSE:T) to Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) to General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) have served on Romney policy advisory committees, hosted fund-raisers, or endorsed him for president. Others have expressed support for Romney-supported policies such as repealing the Wall Street-regulating Dodd-Frank Act, loosening environmental relations (a coal industry lobbyist), and getting tough on trade with China.
This support might appear interesting to those listening closely to some of Romney’s campaign rhetoric. For instance, in the aftermath of Santorum’s sweep in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, Romney’s senior strategist, Stuart Stevens, said, “I just don’t think it’s a time when people are looking to Washington to solve problems with Washington.” Romney’s campaign has tried, with limited success, to peg Santorum as a Washington insider from his time as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.
Another Romney adviser, Ron Kaufman, said, “He does have people who respect him, like him and trust him. There’s no question of that. But it’s different from being of them — and it’s not going to affect how he will govern.”
Only time — and the results of both the race for the Republican presidential nomination and the general presidential election — will tell if Romney’s links to lobbyists will govern his policies or not.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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