Freshmen Democrats embrace culture of corruption
The class of 41 freshman House Democrats has selected a registered lobbyist to form its political action committee, in what ethics watchdogs and Republicans are calling a contradiction of their promise to end a "culture of corruption" in Washington.They never really meant it. It was just a political issue of convenience and not a real concern. They may go through the motions of passing some legislation that gives the impression of concern about ethics, but Jack Murtha will still be doing his under the radar earmarks as will David Obey.
The custodian of the Democratic Freshmen PAC is William C. Oldaker, 65, whose most-recent lobbying clients include the oil industry, the tobacco lobby, pharmaceutical industries and American Indian gambling interests. Mr. Oldaker also has been removed from several Democratic PACs over conflict-of-interest concerns.
According to a 2005 report by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), "When lobbyist William Oldaker sits down to negotiate with a member of Congress, he brings years of experience working for the federal government to the table, as well as the legislative resources of his own firm. He also brings quite a bit of money."
CPI has publicly referred to Mr. Oldaker as a "rainmaker," for his ability to successfully represent his clients' interests before congressional lawmakers. Many prominent lawmakers, and especially those seeking higher office, form PACs to donate money to other candidates or causes.
"As the treasurer of 23 political committees, groups that raise funds to elect or defeat politicians, Oldaker has signed off on more than $2 million in donations since 1998 to the parties and candidates he is paid to influence," the CPI report reads. "At the same time that these committees doled out millions to politicians, some 100 companies paid Oldaker's lobbying firms $14 million to influence some of the same lawmakers."
However, because Mr. Oldaker serves as the Democratic Freshmen PAC's custodian and not its treasurer, he is not directly responsible for fundraising efforts. According to Federal Election Commission forms, a PAC custodian typically houses a PAC's financial records. A records search shows that the law firm he works for, Oldaker, Biden & Belair LLC, and the Democratic Freshmen PAC share the same Northwest Washington address.
Nonetheless, some campaign-finance watchdogs say the connection shows the new Democratic majority is not pursuing ethics reform as forcefully as promised on the campaign trail.