WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney opened up numerous lines of attacks in July on President Barack Obama for playing the inside Washington game by cutting deals on health care reform, giving government funds to campaign donors and meeting with lobbyists on various policies. While Romney has not yet laid out how he would play inside the Beltway politics, or whether he would play at all, campaign contribution records show that he is already deeply connected to Washington's permanent class of lobbyists, donors and influence seekers.
Seven-hundred forty-eight Washington lobbyists and dozens of corporate and lobbying firm PACs have already given $1.87 million to benefit Romney through his campaign or through the victory committee sending funds to the Republican National Committee and a host of state parties, according to records filed with the Secretary of the Senate. The majority of that -- $1.32 million -- was raised in the past six months and disclosed in the last few days of July. These lobbyists have also been central to his campaign's finance operation, raising $5.25 million from their friends, family and clients.
The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee do not accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists.
The amount of money lobbyists in Washington are giving directly to Romney's campaign is already close to matching the amount raised by 2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). These contributions and other connections suggest a future administration that would be well-connected to the influence machine in the nation's capital.
"These lobbyists make their careers because of their close ties to elected officials so they can secure favorable policies for their clients," says Adam Smith, the communications director of Public Campaign, a campaign finance watchdog. "There's no reason to think that a Romney administration backed by these lobbyist contributions would be anything but business as usual."
The Romney campaign did not return a request for comment on its contributions from lobbyists.
Lobbyists giving to Romney work for a host of industries, many of whom would benefit from policies the Republican presidential candidate touts.
The list includes financial services companies lobbying for a loosening of new rules in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, including Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and the industry trade group the American Bankers Association. It includes fossil fuel energy companies working to roll back Environmental Protection Agency regulations and open up more land for drilling, mining and fracking, like Koch Industries, Duke Energy, Chevron, Chesapeake Energy, BP, Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute. And it includes defense industry contractors like Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Halliburton and Boeing looking for a big boost in defense spending.
The lobbyists working for these companies get donor perks from the campaign depending on how much they give and how much they raise. The donor perks, as outlined in a Politico article, include invitations to important fundraisers, one-on-one meetings with the candidate, VIP access to the campaign and discussions with policy advisors.
Even if those perks are not enticing to lobbyists, many of whom are already well-connected within the party, their contributions will help provide access in the future. Former Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), the fundraiser who helped move the Democratic Party in a more business-friendly direction, explained in 1983 that campaign contributions are meant to gain access: "We sell ... the opportunity to be heard."
Some of Romney's informal policy advisers are themselves registered lobbyists. The campaign's top bundler, Barclays lobbyist Patrick Durkin, hosted a roundtable discussion on financial services policy at a Washington fundraiser heavily attended by the denizens of K Street, the corridor where lobbying firms have been historically located. Durkin has raised $1.11 million for Romney's campaign and donated $27,500 to Romney and his victory committee.
American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard, a $2,500 donor, is a close friend of Romney's and was called one of Romney's "most trusted advisers" in a Roll Call article. Gerard's API, the official trade association of the oil industry, has lobbied heavily against EPA regulations and pushed for more offshore oil drilling in recent years. Its chief goal, like that of much of the fossil fuel industry, is to prevent any measure from advancing in Washington that could restrict fossil fuel emissions to combat global climate change. Gerard has been floated as a possible chief of staff in a Romney White House.
Charlie Black, one of the original consultants-cum-lobbyists in Washington, provides informal advice to the Romney campaign. At the same time, he lobbies for companies like AT&T, General Electric, Google and trade groups like TechNet. These companies crave low corporate tax rates and allow for a tax repatriation holiday, contracts with the government and government appointees that oppose net neutrality policies. Black has donated $2,500 to the Romney campaign.
Other informal advisers include the lobbyists Wayne Berman and Vin Weber, both longtime hands at straddling the line between campaign advice and lobbying. Berman, who has given $7,000 to Romney's efforts, lobbies for more than a dozen companies including Chevron, Exelon, The Blackstone Group, Pfizer and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Weber, a lobbyist for eBay, Hyundai and for-profit college Capella Education, among others, has not yet contributed or raised money for the Romney campaign.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the names of former Rep. Tony Coelho and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Jan. 10, 2012 -- "That Smell"
At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Romney dodged the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/mitt-romney-marijuana_n_1197619.html" target="_hplink">medical marijuana</a> issue. "It's a long ... it's a long question," he told a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. "It deserves a full answer, and not just in a photo line like this." (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Jan. 24, 2012 -- "Still Unbroken"
Romney <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/24/mitt-romney-tax-returns-released_n_1225247.html" target="_hplink">released his tax records</a>, showing that he and his wife, Ann, paid a 2010 rate of 13.9 percent. Thanks to a large portion of his earnings stemming from capital gains and investments, that amount was below what most Americans paid. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
Feb. 1, 2012 -- "The Ballad Of Curtis Loew"
In an interview with CNN, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/mitt-romney-very-poor_n_1246557.html" target="_hplink">Romney told viewers</a> that he's "not concerned about the very poor," explaining that there is a social safety net in place for that part of the population.
March 7, 2012 -- "Tuesday's Gone"
Romney fell short of breaking away from the GOP field on <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/mitt-romney-results-super-tuesday-2012_n_1318741.html" target="_hplink">Super Tuesday</a>. Even with a narrow win in Ohio and a host of losses in other states, optimism was abound. "There will be good days and bad days, always long hours and never enough time," he said during his speech. "But, on November 6th, we will stand united -- not only having won an election, but having saved a future." (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
March 12, 2012 -- "What's Your Name?"
In an attempt to reach out to Southern voters, Romney mixed <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/mitt-romney-hugs-southern-girls-mobile-alabama_n_1339692.html" target="_hplink">age, women and hugs all in one</a>. At a campaign rally in Mobile, Alabama, he emphasized his desire to have female voters embrace his White House run. "Please give us a big hug, that's the girls," Romney said. "I've been getting hugs from the Southern girls ... from 12, to well, a lot more than 12." (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
March 12, 2012 -- "Sweet Home Alabama"
Rain or shine, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/12/mitt-romney-alabama-sardines_n_1339265.html" target="_hplink">Romney has his way with words</a>. At a stormy campaign event in Alabama, Mitt and his ralliers huddled under a restaurant overhang to escape the inclement weather. "Look at us in here," Romney remarked. "We are all nice together, all nice and wet, you know, like a can of sardines." (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
April 13, 2012 -- "God & Guns"
Speaking at an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/mitt-romney-nra-beware_n_1424081.html" target="_hplink">NRA convention</a> in St. Louis, Romney warned that reelecting President Barack Obama would lead to an "unrestrained" assault on freedom. He enforced his pro-gun stance at the event, telling listeners that "the right to bear arms is so plainly stated, so unambiguous, that liberals have a hard time challenging it directly. Instead, they've been employing every imaginable ploy to restrict it." (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
April 15, 2012 -- "Simple Man"
MSNBC's "Up w/ Chris Hayes" unearthed a controversial January 2012 comment from Romney on moms and work. The GOP hopeful told a Manchester, N.H., audience that poor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/15/mitt-romney-mothers-welfare-moms_n_1426113.html" target="_hplink">stay-at-home mothers</a> should be given federal assistance so they can get jobs and "have the dignity of work." This news arrived days after his anger at Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen's criticism of Ann Romney not working "a day in her life." (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
May 29, 2012 -- "Free Bird"
Romney <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/mitt-romney-republican-nomination_n_1554534.html" target="_hplink">clinched the GOP nomination</a>, soaring past the required 1,144 delegates with a Texas primary win. "We did it!" he said in a message to supporters, adding that "it's only the beginning." (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
June 13, 2012 -- "Gimme Three Steps"
Reporters were kicked out of a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/14/reporters-mitt-romney-reporters_n_1596650.html" target="_hplink">Romney event at the Newseum</a> in Washington D.C. One of the press members on hand said that Mitt stayed to take questions, but the media was escorted out before being able to hear any answers. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)