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New Hampshire Campaign Chairs – Obama v. Clinton

***January 7 UPDATE***:  Thanks to Lonee Hamilton for pointing me to this info from the LA Times.

 Obama aides found themselves on the defensive after Clinton said during Saturday’s debate that Obama’s New Hampshire campaign co-chairman, Jim Demers, is a lobbyist whose clients include pharmaceutical companies. The Clinton campaign kept up the criticism Sunday morning in a teleconference call with reporters, noting that Obama has repeatedly said he does not take money from federal lobbyists or political action committees.

Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said Demers is a state lobbyist and does not do business involving federal legislation or regulation. He said the campaign has drawn a distinction between lobbyists who are registered to work at the state level and those who lobby the federal government.

“A ban on lobbying money and PACs is far from perfect,” Gibbs said. “There is a difference between a college football player and professional football player,” he added.

During the debate, while Clinton referred to Demers, the camera caught Obama shaking his head, saying “not so.”

“He was shaking his head because her implication was that it violated our lobbyist pledge and his role quite clearly does not,” Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.

**Original Blog**

In the NH Debate last night, Hillary Clinton accused Barack Obama of having a lobbyist for his NH Campaign chair.  This is an issue, of course, because Obama has been clear about not having ties to and being beholden to lobbyists in this campaign.  I decided to dig into the issue.

First, let me say that Hillary attacking Obama over the possibility of having a less-than-ethical NH chair strikes me as a pot-kettle scenario.  Let’s recall that her NH co-chair, Bill Shaheen, resigned in December when he made the ridiculous suggestion to a reporter that Obama might have been a drug dealer. 

Moving on, let’s look at the man Hillary was talking about in the debate, Jim Demers, co-chair of Obama’s NH campaign.  He has a long history as a Democratic politician in his own right.  He’s a former State representative, he ran for the House in 1986 and was a delegate to the Dem convention in 2000. 

Hillary doesn’t care about all of that.  What she cares about is that he run the Demers group.  Yes, the Demers group provides lobbying services.  From their website, here is, in fact the list of all of the services they offer:

Legislative Relations

  • Legislative Monitoring and Analysis
  • Lobbying
  • Grassroots Organization
  • Development and Implementation of Legislative Strategies
  • Position Papers
  • Issue Research
  • Media Relations
  • Online Reporting

Regulatory Relations

  • State and Local Permitting Assistance
  • State Regulation Monitoring and Analysis
  • Regulatory Review Hearings
  • Hearing Representation
  • Online Reporting

Association Management

  • Identity
  • Public Relations
  • Member Recruitment
  • Issue Development
  • Event Planning
  • Membership Communications
  • Administrative Services

Community Relations

  • Coalition Building
  • Community Relations Programs

So, yeah, they lobby.  But they do a whole lot of other things and so has Jim Demers done in his career.  Finally, I’ve read in at least three separate places that Demers is VOLUNTEERING for the campaign, though named, because of his party stature, as a co-chair.

Even though Demers runs the Demers Group, he has clearly put any of that aside for this campaign as he is listed everywhere, except perhaps at Hillary’s attack site, as a “former lobbyist.” 

So which would I rather have?  A former lobbyist who has served his party for 20+ years and volunteers for my campaign or a man who floats unfounded accusations to see if they’ll get traction and then resigns?  I know my choice and my candidate.

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