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Democrats and Bain

Executives at Romney's old private-equity firm have donated more to the Democratic Party than the GOP. Why?

We all know that Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s former firm, is the paragon of capitalist evil, destroying the middle class in order to enrich greedy vulture oligarchs. We also all know that the Democratic Party is the defender of the middle class and the bold adversary of corporate pillaging. That’s why these facts generate so much cognitive dissonance:President Obama and Cory Booker. (Credit: AP/Matt Derer)

Democrats have accepted more political donations than Republicans from executives at Bain Capital, complicating the left’s plan to attack Mitt Romney for his record at the private-equity firm.

During the last three election cycles, Bain employees have given Democratic candidates and party committees more than $1.2 million. The vast majority of that sum came from senior executives.

Republican candidates and party committees raised over $480,000 from senior Bain executives during that time period.

While Romney himself has received more contributions from his former firm than Obama has, “President Obama received a sizable share as well.” More generally, “campaign finance records show that Democrats collect more money from Wall Street than does the GOP.”

Why would these cunning Master of the Universe villains want so robustly to fund a party that is so adverse to their interests? The only coherent answer is that the party which they’re funding is anything but adverse to their interests. From today’s Washington Post, comparing White House visitor logs to lobbyist registration records:

The lobbying industry Obama has vowed to constrain is a regular presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The records also suggest that lobbyists with personal connections to the White House enjoy the easiest access. . . . 

The White House visitor records make it clear that Obama’s senior officials are granting that access to some of K Street’s most influential representatives. . . . Lobbyist Marshal Matz, for example, who served as an unpaid adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign, has been to the White House roughly two dozen times in the past 2 1/2 years. He has brought along the general counsel for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the chief executive of cereal maker General Mills and pro bono clients, including advocates for farmers in Africa. . . .

Among the lobbyists with close ties to the White House is former New York congressman Tom Downey, who is married to Carol Browner, until last year Obama’s energy czar. Downey is the head of Downey McGrath Group, a lobbying firm whose clients include Time Warner Cable and Herbalife, which sells nutrition and dieting products. He has been to the White House complex for meetings and events 31 times. . . .

On Dec. 10, 2010, Downey held a meeting with economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers and Bill Cheney, the head of the Credit Union National Association, one of Downey McGrath’s clients. John Magill, the top lobbyist for the association, said that the group was pushing to lift the cap on the percentage of assets its members can lend out. The group asked Downey to request the meeting because he is a well-known Democrat.

“Had it been the Bush administration, we probably would have asked one of our Republican consultants to make the call,” Magill said. “That’s the way it works.”

That is indeed “the way it works” — as much as ever (the Obama administration agreed to release the visitor logs in order to settle a lawsuit, and it is the first administration to do so). Some of the lobbyists identified by the Post as frequent White House visitors are advocating for liberal causes rather than corporate interests, but many are simply there to shill for the industries that pay them to peddle their influence.

Yesterday, Newark Mayor Cory Booker went on Meet the Press and angered hordes of Democrats when he condemned the Obama campaign’s attacks on Bain as “nauseating,” equated the anti-Bain messaging to the GOP’s sleazy use of Jeremiah Wright, and then demanded: “stop the attacks on private equity” (in response to the backlash, Booker then released a hostage-like video recanting his criticisms and pledging his loyalty to President Obama). But as my Salon colleague Steve Kornacki noted, this was not some aberrational outburst from Booker; to the contrary, as Mayor of Newark, home to numerous Wall Street executives and firms, “financial support from Wall Street and, more broadly speaking, the investor class has been key to Booker’s rise, and remains key to his future dreams.”

Read the full article with updates at Salon.com

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