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The Kerry Model So how much influence do lobbyists have over presidential candidates? The debate rages on. The latest salvo comes from the Center for Public Integrity’s “Buying of the President 2008″ project. The group is citing the “Kerry Precedent” � Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 decision to release a list of nearly 200 meetings with lobbyists dating back to 1989. According to the center, the move made Kerry the first presidential candidate and first member of Congress to make such a disclosure. This year, the center says: “The Clinton, Huckabee, McCain, Obama, and Ron Paul presidential campaigns did not respond to the center’s inquiries, by telephone and e-mail, as to whether they are willing to make public their candidates’ meetings with lobbyists over the past five years.” Nevertheless, lobbyists, their access, and their influence over the political process have certainly been an issue. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has refused to accept donations from registered federal lobbyists, though some have volunteered for him. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the Republican front-runner, has repeatedly stressed his anti-earmark credentials and work on campaign and ethics reform. But last month, a story in The New York Times about McCain’s ties to an Alcalde & Fay lobbyist didn’t just create a firestorm. It also increased scrutiny of his ties to lobbyists, many of whom play prominent roles in his campaign. In response, Public Citizen, the Ralph Nader-founded group that acts as a public watchdog, defended McCain. While Public Citizen disagrees with McCain on most things, he’s a leader in the fight for good government, the group says. “Regardless of how many lobbyists are working on his campaign or raising money for him, John McCain fought for 14 long, hard years for reforms that seriously limit lobbyists’ power,” the group said in a statement last week, citing McCain’s advocacy of campaign finance reform and public disclosure. � Carrie Levine
Royal We Treatment There’s no reason to doubt that William Morley’s newly minted bipartisan trade lobbying shop, the Altrius Group, is off to a strong start. But there is cause to question Morley’s description of the group as bipartisan: So far, he’s the only member. “Can’t people be bipartisan anymore as individuals?” asks the former counsel to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). It’s hard to blame Morley for looking ahead. The former head of the MWW Group’s lobbying practice and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s top trade lobbyist, he’s signed Pfizer, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Colombia, and the Central American Sugar Association since opening up to lobby on various free trade agreements. Several other registrations are in the works, he says, and he also does nonlobbying trade consulting. Morley says he began thinking about going solo last year at a client’s suggestion. While he enjoyed working at the MWW Group, Morley says he wanted to build his own firm. “Some of my friends have done very well in building businesses and selling those businesses,” he says. While the shop’s Democratic � and first-person plural � credentials aren’t yet established, Morley says it won’t be long: “I had a conversation with somebody today about joining up.” � Jeff Horwitz
Trading Up A new trade association says it wants to represent sovereign wealth funds in Washington, the state-owned funds which have drawn increased scrutiny for their buying power and political ties. Thomas Karol, president and chief operating officer of the new Sovereign Investment Council, says the group started about a month ago, when he and other lawyers and bankers working with sovereign wealth “found there were no advocates for the funds” and saw an opportunity. No funds have joined the new group yet, and Karol says the money for the association has been put up by “service companies” that work with the funds, which would probably join as affiliated members. He declined to name the companies involved. Karol, formerly a consultant and chief operating officer of the global financial services industry at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, says he’s the council’s only full-time employee so far. � Carrie Levine

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