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Obama Gave Biden Son’s Clients $3.4M

This article, buried deep in the bowels of the Washington Post, almost slipped by us:

Obama, Biden’s Son Linked by Earmarks

Candidate Got Funding for Nursing Program

By James V. Grimaldi and Kimberly Kindy
Wednesday, August 27, 2008; A16

Sen. Barack Obama sought more than $3.4 million in congressional earmarks for clients of the lobbyist son of his Democratic running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, records show. Obama succeeded in getting $192,000 for one of the clients, St. Xavier University in suburban Chicago.

Obama’s campaign has taken a hard stance against the world of lobbying in the nation’s capital. Obama said he limits his own efforts to get money for pet projects — a process known as earmarking — to those that benefit the public. He has posted his earmark requests on his presidential campaign Web site to encourage transparency.

Since Obama announced his selection of Biden on Saturday, attention has focused on Biden’s lobbying connections as well as his son’s lobbying activities. R. Hunter Biden is one of many relatives of members of Congress who work as lobbyists.

The younger Biden started his career as a lobbyist in 2001 and has registered to represent about 21 clients that have brought in $3.5 million to his Washington firm, according to lobbying disclosure forms.

Sen. Biden has collected more than $6.9 million in campaign contributions from lobbyists and lawyers since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

A spokesman for the Obama campaign said that Hunter Biden himself has never lobbied his father. Another lobbyist in the firm successfully sought an earmark from the senator for the University of Delaware. But Hunter did not work on the account, the spokesman said…

Hunter Biden, a 38-year-old Georgetown graduate and Yale-trained lawyer, is a name partner in the firm Oldaker, Biden & Belair, founded by William Oldaker, an election lawyer and lobbyist who worked on Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s 1980 presidential campaign and has been a fundraiser and campaign adviser for Sen. Biden.

An analysis for The Washington Post by Taxpayers for Common Sense of Hunter Biden’s firm’s lobbying business found that its clients collected $2.7 million in earmarks in the last fiscal year.

One of those clients was St. Xavier University, a four-year, 5,600-student institution run by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Mercy in Orland Park, Ill. Steve Murphy, vice president for university advancement, said Hunter Biden approached him in 2005 offering to secure congressional earmarks

Murphy said he found Biden’s parentage a selling point. Murphy then accompanied Biden to the offices of the Illinois delegation, including Obama’s.

Obama requested $1.4 million for St. Xavier, including $900,000 to establish an early-childhood teacher training center “to meet the demand in the southwest Chicago metropolitan area,” according to a news release on the Web site of Obama’s Senate office. Obama requested the early-childhood money in both 2006 and 2007.

Obama also in June 2007 sought $500,000 for a skills laboratory for St. Xavier’s nursing school, which has one of the largest nursing programs in the state…

In 2006, Obama also asked for $2 million for a cancer research treatment center at Chicago’s Thorek Memorial Hospital, according to an Obama letter requesting the money posted on Obama’s campaign Web site. Hunter Biden was the registered lobbyist and his firm was paid $120,000 for representing Thorek, which has not received funding.

Obama’s spokesman also acknowledged lobbying for Mercy Hospital, another client of Hunter Biden.

In addition to his work for universities, Hunter Biden has done consulting work for MBNA, the largest employer in Delaware.

From 2001 to 2005, Hunter was paid an undisclosed amount by the credit card giant, which has since been purchased by Bank of America. It has been widely reported that he received $100,000 a year.

At the time, Sen. Biden led a successful, high-profile battle in the Senate for a bankruptcy bill that ultimately benefited credit card companies. The law makes it more difficult for people to file for personal bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7.

“He was a crucial supporter of the law in that he paved the way for other Democrats to support it,” said Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Foundation of America, a consumer group that opposed the bill. “Senator Biden provided a lot of political cover for the credit card industry because they wanted to show that the proposal had bipartisan support. He aggressively undermined the opposition to the bill.”

Over the past two decades, MBNA employees have given more than $200,000 to Biden’s Senate campaigns, more than workers from any other company

Hunter Biden also lobbied for Napster, the music-sharing Web site that ran afoul of intellectual-property laws. Sen. Biden at the time was a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees laws governing intellectual-property rights

Of course such details do not compare with the scandal of the GOP’s VP candidate having a pregnant daughter.

And, oddly enough, this story made it onto the front page of today’s Washington Post, above the fold:

Palin’s Small Alaska Town Secured Big Federal Funds

By Paul Kane

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 2, 2008; Page A01

ST. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 1 — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group.

There was $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project — all intended to benefit Palin’s town, Wasilla, located about 45 miles north of Anchorage…

What Mrs. Palin did was not only perfectly legal, it is what her constituents want her to do.

So why is this so much more newsworthy than the Biden story?

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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