Democrats ignore spirit of President Obama’s fundraising restrictions

President Barack Obama will headline a fundraising dinner for congressional Democrats tonight in Washington DC. Because President Obama banned contributions to his campaign from registered lobbyists and political action committees, donations at the dinner event will be limited to individuals, at Obama’s request.

Tomorrow morning, however, the congressional Democrats will hold another fundraiser at the same fancy hotel as tonight’s event. According to a story in Politico, organizers have found a way around the President’s fundraising restrictions with a separate event. Politico says a finance official from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee e-mailed lobbyists, urging them to attend the morning event, saying “Please note that the Friday Issues Conference is NOT subject to lobbyist restrictions, though the event is intended for personal contributions only . The Issues Conference is separate from the DSCC/DCCC events with President Obama.”

“Clearly the Democrats are ignoring the spirit of what President Obama wanted,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “President Obama has said that the large amounts of money donated by lobbyists and PACs drown out the voices of the American people. Six months into his presidency, they still are silencing the voices of the public.”

In June 2008, the Obama campaign released a statement which read:

“I’ve sent a strong signal in this campaign by refusing the contributions of registered federal lobbyists and PACs,” Senator Obama said. “And today, I’m announcing that going forward, the Democratic National Committee will uphold the same standard and won’t take another dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs. They do not fund my campaign. They will not fund our party. And they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I’m President of the United States.”

“The way to best restore the public’s voice is by passing legislation, the Fair Elections Now Act, that would create a voluntary system of public financing for congressional races,” Edgar added.

Common Cause continues to work to pass the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826 / S.752) as the comprehensive solution to the pay-to-play culture in Washington, DC, which would create a citizen-funded election system for Congress in which candidates could run for office on a blend of small donations and public funds.