Twenty-three lobbyists on Tuesday started receiving a fundraising letter from Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) — but it wasn’t a plea for money. Just the opposite: LaHood told the lobbyists that their services in helping to sponsor fundraisers for him were no longer wanted.
“In the past, we have asked each of you to sponsor an event and commit to raise money on my behalf,” the letter signed by LaHood said. “I believe this could be perceived as a special relationship, and I am confident all of us want to avoid this perception.”
Among the lobbyists who received the letter, according to LaHood, were Peter Madigan of Johnson, Madigan, Peck, Boland, & Stewart; James Massie of the Alpine Group; former Rep. Michael Flanagan (R-Ill.), who runs Flanagan Consulting; Caterpillar Inc.’s Bill Lane; and BKSH & Associates’ M.B. Oglesby.
One of the lobbyists who received the letter said he is disheartened by the blowback from the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and the resulting reform efforts.
“I just want to wake up and have this nightmare be over,” said this lobbyist.
But Madigan had a different reaction. “It would make sense to me that Ray, being the kind of person he is ... wants to take every step that he can, even in advance of what the Congress does because he holds the institution so dear.”
Although LaHood said he would still welcome contributions from lobbyists. But from now on, only his professional fundraiser, Jan Bain of Washington, D.C., would “handle all of the details of my fund raising activities, including all arrangements, invitations, and contact with the lobbying community,” LaHood wrote in the letter.
In an interview, LaHood said he didn’t make the change because he nor the lobbyists who were part of his campaign steering committee effort had run afoul of any rules. But he said it did signal what lobbying reform measures he was likely to support.
“I want to make sure that if I’m going to be for lobby reform, then I want to make sure that I’m doing what I am promoting,” he said by phone. “I may be promoting the idea that lobbyists shouldn’t be involved in fundraising in the future.”
LaHood’s letter added: “I believe that we need to take quick action as a party to show that we are serious about ethics reform or risk losing the majority. And, in that regard, I am taking several steps to set an example of what I think should be part of a reform package now.”
In the interview, LaHood said he has expressed his ideas for lobbying reform to Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.).
Although they didn’t receive the letter and were not part of LaHood’s steering committee, many other lobbyists have contributed to LaHood’s coffers so far this election cycle, including Ed Gillespie of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, Dan Mattoon of PodestaMattoon and Gregg Hartley and several colleagues at Cassidy & Associates.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.