The Politico raises an eyebrow at presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards' claims to not take contributions from federal lobbyists, asking how far this prohibition extends -- just to lobbyists? To employees of lobbying firms? The whole article really illustrates the futility of hairsplitting when it comes to talking about money's influence on elections: either we get big money out or we don't. Anything else feels equivocal.
Don't get me wrong, lobbyists wield tremendous influence through campaign contributions and through bundling checks from their friends and associates and candidates who refuse to take their money have an opportunity to show independence and a willingness to embrace campaign finance reform proposals. But lobbyist money is just one strand in the big money web. One that will stick around until the broom of Clean Money sweeps it out (ouch -- anyone for Tortured Metaphor Reform?). Let's go with this concluding quote from US PIRG's Gary Kalman instead:
It is so insidious how money infiltrates the process, I just don't believe you can separate it … from special interests. Candidates are taking steps to try to separate out the special interests' influence from the fundraising they do. It is noble and yet artificial.