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Today's Top News
GOP 'Pledge To America' Director Lobbied For AIG, Exxon, Pfizer, Chamber
The Republican Party's 21-page blueprint, "Pledge to America," was put together with oversight by a House staffer who, up till April 2010, served as a lobbyist for some of the nation's most powerful oil, pharmaceutical, and insurance companies.
In a draft version of The Pledge that was being passed around to reporters before the official release, the document properties list "Wild, Brian" as the "Author." A GOP source said that Wild -- who is on House Minority Leader John Boehner's payroll -- did help author the governing platform that the party is unveiling on Thursday. Another aide said that as the executive director of the Republican leadership group American Speaking Out, Wild's tasks were more on the administrative side of the operations.
Until early this year, Wild was a fairly active lobbyist on behalf of the firm the Nickles Group, the lobbying shop set up by the former Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Don Nickles. During his five years at the firm, Wild, among others, was paid $740,000 in lobbying contracts from AIG, the former insurance company at the heart of the financial collapse; $800,000 from energy giant Andarko Petroleum; more than $1.1 million from Comcast, more than $1.3 million from Exxon Mobil; and $625,000 from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc.
Not all of his work has been done in the world of influence peddling. From 2001 through 2004, Wild was the legislative director for then Representative Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) the current Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania. From 2004 through 2005 he was a Deputy Assistant For Legislative Affairs to Vice President Dick Cheney. There also was a tenure on the staff of former Colorado Republican Senator Hank Brown.
But the career door has been revolving. And in between his time in Johnson and Toomey's office, Wild served as a lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce where he helped steer more than $34 million worth of lobbying activity for the business interest group.
Past associations with entities like the Chamber are hardly character disqualifiers, certainly on the Republican side of the aisle where fidelity to the business lobby is a virtue. But having been paid to lobby on behalf of major companies with legislative business before Congress does create an obvious optics problem for Republican leaders hoping to promote their agenda as clean of big-moneyed influence.
Asked about the perception of conflicting interests, Brendan Buck, a spokesperson for the House GOP Legislative Initiatives stressed that there was none. Wild, he said, played a role in steering "The Pledge" project. But he was not involved in actually authoring its specific provisions -- a task saved for the actual members.
"Brian's job as much as anything has been to keep the trains running between all the leadership offices and members who contributed," said Buck. "The contents of our agenda, however, were written by our members, based on the priorities they heard from the American people. Staffers don't write things like this - they carry out the orders of the members they work for."
With additional reporting by Amanda Terkel