Money, Influence, and Ethics
Should lobbyists be doubling as treasurers of campaigns?
A number of lobbyists also serve as treasurers of political action committees, or PACs, which collect money for specific issues or members. Since 1998, registered lobbyists have served as treasurers of at least 868 PACs, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
Numbers game. And some lobbyists act as treasurers for more than one campaign committee or PAC at a time. Lobbyist William Oldaker, a former general counsel to the FEC, has served as treasurer of 23 political campaign committees since 1998, according to the center. Oldaker currently serves as treasurer of the joint campaign committees of Senate Democrats Max Baucus of Montana and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. He's registered to lobby for such big-league clients as Philip Morris.
The head of one D.C. lobbying firm told U.S. News that he doesn't encourage the practice, calling it a "risky arrangement" that could ruin the relationship if the lobbyist makes a mistake that results in a fine. "These members don't hire you unless they already know you and trust you," he said. "It's a pre-existing relationship that gets more complicated."
None of the lobbying reform proposals being considered by Congress address this arrangement, though Common Cause tried to get lawmakers to prohibit the practice. Dennis Thompson, a government ethics professor at Harvard University, says there should at least be a "cooling off" period between active lobbying and service as a campaign treasurer. "Dual roles are always suspect," says Thompson, "and this ought to raise red flags."