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Report: Prominent Obama Fundraisers Have Ties To Lobbyists

"Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid," The New York Times reports this morning.

The Times says "at least 15 of Mr. Obama's 'bundlers' — supporters who contribute their own money to his campaign and solicit it from others — are involved in lobbying for Washington consulting shops or private companies. They have raised more than $5 million so far for the campaign."

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt tells the newspaper that the president "has fought to limit the outsized influence that lobbyists have over the policy making process." Craig Holman a registered lobbyist for the nonpartisan ethics group Public Citizen, is quoted saying "the reality is that the president is still relying on wealthy special interests and embracing those people in his campaign."

In June, NPR's Peter Overby reported on a study by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity that found that nearly 200 of the bundlers who raised money for the president's 2008 campaign later got jobs in the administration.

Peter reported that:

"Bigger bundlers did better. In the top tier, each bundler delivered at least $500,000 in contributions to the campaign. Eighty percent of them went into the administration, often as ambassadors."

But, said Craig Holman of the liberal advocacy group Public Citizen, Obama did order up tough restrictions on the so-called revolving door that had let individuals move freely from government jobs to lobbying and back. "Even though he is being run largely by money, he is making a massive effort to try to avoid any serious conflicts of interest," Holman said.

Our colleague Frank James if following the 2012 presidential campaign over at It's All Politics.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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