Sen. John Edwards wants the Democratic Party to reject contributions from Washington lobbyists, and today, campaign officials asked Sen. Barack Obama to join the Edwards campaign in writing a letter to the heads of the Democratic campaign committees urging them to stop taking donations from registered federal lobbyists.
"There is a pernicious connection between money and argument," said Jonathan Prince, Edwards's deputy campaign manager. "We want to take the money out of it. Nobody is suggesting that people shouldn't add on behalf of your client."
Edwards's communications director, Chris Kofinis taunted Obama: "I cannot see the reason why Sen. Obama should disagree. I imagine he would wholeheartedly support this." Prince said the Democrats would benefit politically from unilaterally abstaining from taking Washington lobbyist money.
"Right now, the Democratic Party can say, we're reforming our party," he said.
Edwards was frustrated when efforts to bait Hillary Clinton into justifying her acceptance of lobbying cash resulted in what the press covered as a clash between Obama and Hillary. But adviser Joe Trippi said today's conference call was not an attempt to inject Edwards into the Obama/Clinton dynamic. "This is about leading the party to real reform," Trippi said.
Edwards has yet to announce a government ethics proposal; Obama has made his own detailed plan a centerpiece of recent campaign stops.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton e-mails:
Senator Obama appreciates what John Edwards is saying about lobbyists, which is why Obama doesn't accept contributions from federal lobbyists and PACS. But it's not enough just to refuse their money, we have to curb their influence. That's why Obama led the fight in the Illinois state Senate to pass the first major ethics reform in 25 years and spearheaded the effort to pass landmark ethics legislation in the U.S. Senate, ensuring that lobbyists have to disclose who they're raising campaign money from, and who in Congress they're funneling it to. Obama has done more to curb lobbyists' influence than anyone else in this race and has the furthest reaching plan to fundamentally reform government and shut the revolving door between the White House and K Street. We invite John Edwards and every other candidate to support the sweeping reforms Obama has proposed to take our government back from the special interests and put it in the hands of the American people.
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