Timothy P. Carney‘s latest Washington Examiner article analyzes the message former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is sending potential voters by aligning himself with former congressman and current lobbying big shot Vin Weber.
There’s nothing unusual about active lobbyists serving on campaigns. Even while Barack Obama pretended to run against lobbyists, he kept a handful of advisers from K Street, with clients like AT&T, the American Petroleum Institute, and Freddie Mac. But just because it’s standard Beltway procedure doesn’t mean it’s OK. Can someone being paid to advance AT&T’s or Goldman Sachs’s interests before lawmakers also give reliable counsel to a powerful politician?
Liberals worry more than conservatives about this sort of thing. The Nation magazine raised a stink four years ago about corporate consultant Mark Penn advising Hillary Clinton, arguing that these sort of “corporate ties … cast doubt on her ability and willingness to fight for the progressive policies she claims to champion.”
But conservatives ought to have the same sort of worries. Weber, for instance, lobbies on Alcoa’s behalf on “energy … and environmental issues,” according to federal lobbying filings. Alcoa has actively supported a cap-and-trade scheme curbing greenhouse gas emissions and has lobbied in favor of stricter fuel-economy standards for cars. Both of these policies help the aluminum giant by creating a new incentive to use more aluminum in automobiles and less steel. But both policies also undermine the free market Romney says he stands for.