Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Obama, Biden's Son Linked By Earmarks

Obama, Biden's Son Linked By Earmarks

From The Washington Post

By James V. Grimaldi and Kimberly Kindy

August 27, 2008

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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. ...

Hunter Biden, a 38-year-old Georgetown graduate and Yale-trained lawyer, is a name partner in the firm Oldaker, Biden & [sic] 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.

Hunter Biden and his colleague, Eric Schwerin, told Murphy they were "working with a number of clients, institutions like yours, and we would like to help you identify earmarks, federal support and grants."

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

Since Hunter Biden signed St. Xavier as a client in December 2005, the firm has earned $320,000 from the university.

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. ...

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

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.

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. ...

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