Democrats target Georgia's Chambliss over son's lobbying
A new Democratic organization critical of GOP senators is taking aim at Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a freshman Republican from Georgia.
The Senate Majority Project, launched with fundraising help from former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, points out that Chambliss's son, Bo, is a registered lobbyist with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and lobbies on commodity futures trading issues that are directly under the purview of his father, who chairs the Agriculture Committee.
"Potential Abramoffs of the world, take note: Lobbying is a whole lot easier when you're lobbying your daddy," says Mike Gehrke, executive director of the SMP and the former research director for the Democratic National Committee. It is not against the rules for relatives of senators to lobby Congress. Moreover, Angie Lundberg, Chambliss's communications director, told U.S. News that Chambliss sought guidance from the Senate Ethics Committee several years ago about how to deal with his son's lobbying.
Since May 2004, the senator's office has had a written office policy that staff members must refrain from engaging in any meeting or activity involving lobbying by Bo Chambliss.
"Staff should not be informed of any lobbying that Bo might undertake with respect to committees or subcommittees on which Senator Chambliss serves," says the policy obtained by U.S. News.
Chambliss is one of the first GOP senators to be targeted by the Senate Majority Project. The SMP is an attempt by Democrats to create a permanent opposition-research arm focusing on Republican senators.
Prominent Democratic strategists are involved in the project. Besides Gehrke, others include Jim Jordan, former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Steve Ricchetti, a former high-level staff member under President Clinton.
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An earlier version of this story cited figures by PoliticalMoneyLine.com that incorrectly stated the amount of corporate air travel reimbursements Chambliss had submitted. The organization has corrected its miscalculation.