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This coverage is part of the Center's extensive campaign research on the Presidential Election 2000. For more information, see
The Buying of the President 2000.

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Under the Influence
Party Machines, Lobbyists
And Special Interests

Related Reports
Commentary: Why This Series?

The history of the race, and each individual's experience, are thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.
                                                     -- Mark Twain

(Washington, 2 March) It is no surprise and nothing new in the land of the spin and the home of the sound bite that each and every candidate for the presidency in the year 2000 would like to convince us that he and only he is the candidate of reform, the candidate with integrity, the candidate who will bring a new day to America. 

Amid all the words and posturing, the Center for Public Integrity once again takes a dispassionate look at those who craft the message that makes the candidate. Our conclusion: nothing new, little sign of reform, little goes on that is not packaged by party machines, lobbyists and special interests.

We give special mention to two of the five men whose campaigns we profile here, former Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who stood on a chilly stage in New Hampshire and pledged to reform campaign financing with a focus on banning so-called soft money, the millions that constitute back door support for presidential campaigns. The words of reform may be welcome to some, but the current reality shows neither Bradley nor McCain free of special-interest money. Like all the others in our quadrennial pay-to-play presidential system, Bradley and McCain depend on money and advisers - and we include - from the most traditional of sources.

In general, the focus of this study is on the people who shape and influence the candidates and policy; regardless of the frequency of contact or whether they hold an official title.

Free-Thinking Bradley

Despite three terms in the Senate, Bradley always has defined himself as a free-thinker who isn�t beholden to Washington interests. And unlike his Democratic and Republican opponents, Bradley's adviser circle isn�t studded with inside-the-Beltway lobbyists and politicians. Still, Bradley is a first-rate networker, having spent years culling Manhattan and Silicon Valley for fund-raisers and policy advisers. Among his closest advisers are longtime Princeton University friends, including lawyers, business executives, and professors. 

'Iron Triangle'

McCain, for his part, has regularly denounced the �iron triangle� of lobbyists, money and legislation. Yet he counts among his closest advisers some of the top lobbyists in the nation's capital, including Rick Davis, Vin Weber and Kenneth Duberstein. Many of McCain's advisers have clients with business before the Senate Commerce Committee, which he chairs, and those clients have contributed to his campaigns. His chief fund-raiser, Solomon Trujillo, who is chairman and chief executive officer of U S West, is McCain's No. 1 career patron. The Commerce Committee oversees telecommunications.

Two of McCain's top economic advisers, including Kevin Hassett, are scholars at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Henry Kissinger is one of his foreign policy advisers.

McCain's reformist rhetoric brought a response from his opponent, George W. Bush, the man whose $70 million war chest represents the most money ever raised by a presidential candidate on the planet. Bush takes up the mainstream Republican charge that banning corporate soft money would give unfair advantage to the Democrats, since they are buttressed by the massive support of labor unions. His financing plan called for real-time disclosure of contributions on the Internet, the only area where McCain outshines the Texas governor. 

Bush owes his political career�if one leaves out his family name�to corporate money and big-time Republican politics. The Bush campaign has locked up virtually every key endorsement in the Republican establishment, including key governors and Capitol Hill lawmakers. Many of them are acting as advisers on political strategy and policy matters. Of all the candidates, Bush has assembled the largest coterie of advisers, who are coming up with positions on everything from health care to the environment. Many of them, especially in the foreign-policy arena, served in his father's administration.

Close to Business

A large number of his advisers have close ties to business, either working in Corporate America, serving on boards of directors or acting as lobbyists. That's no surprise. Bush has run a pro-business administration as governor of Texas.

His main Democratic opponent, Al Gore, might have far fewer financial resources, but he does have the prodigious Democratic Party apparatus behind him. Gore might have moved his campaign headquarters from Washington to Nashville to show his independence from traditional politics, but his senior advisers and closest friends are among the best-connected lobbyists in Washington. Tom Downey, Anthony Podesta, Peter Knight, and Jack Quinn have represented numerous clients in the telecommunications and high-technology fields'policy arenas that Gore's office has overseen during the Clinton administration. Some advisers have noted on their lobbying disclosure forms that they, or their associates, have lobbied the vice president's office on these issues. Gore also includes among his advisers many Clinton administration officials and former officials who are now working in the private sector.

The Buchanan Wildcard

�Under the Influence� also profiles the perennial wildcard in campaign politics, Patrick Buchanan, whose candidacy has become something of a micro-industry. In The Buying of the President 2000, we describe a different sort of campaign, a cadre of small money donors and speaking engagements that fuel Buchanan's outside run. �The supporters who stand by Buchanan fight after fight tend to be from the fringes of American politics,� we say. Buchanan's decision to leave the GOP for the Reform Party has driven off many of his past supporters who had been his advisers. Having run for president for eight years on the same ideas, he evidently has decided he no longer needs a circle of advisers. His closest adviser, as in the past, is his sister, Angela �Bay� Buchanan. Other campaign co-chairs are Rabbi Aryeh Spero, a conservative who used to run a think tank dedicated to close relations between blacks and Jews; leftist Lenora Fulani; and Pat Choate, who was Ross Perot's running mate in 1996 and recently became chairman of the Reform Party.

The "Under the Influence" report was written by Shannon Feaster, Nathaniel Heller, Marianne Holt, Annys Shin and Russ Tisinger of the Center for Public Integrity. Matt Hoenck, information systems manager, provided database assistance.

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� Copyright 2010, The Center for Public Integrity. All rights reserved.

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