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DNC will play by Obama’s rules

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KAI RYSSDAL: Barack Obama has a job. But he’s looking to move up the ladder. And he’s shaking up the establishment now that he’s got the Democratic nomination wrapped up. Obama’s putting his people in key jobs. And he’s going to make the party live by his campaign’s rules on taking money from lobbyists and political action committees.

BARACK OBAMA: I am announcing that going forward the Democratic National Committee will uphold the same standard. We will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs.

The DNC’s raised only about half as much as the Republican National Committee has. So we asked Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson how this decision might affect what happens in November.


Jeremy Hobson: Business, labor and other interests run political action committees to raise money for candidates. But PAC money doesn’t make up that big a chunk of the DNC’s funds. Only a couple million dollars out of more than $82 million raised so far this campaign season. Money from Lobbyists is even less.

Michael Malbin, who directs the Campaign Finance Institute, says Senator Obama’s decision is clever.

MICHAEL MALBIN: I think he’s making a calculation that the value of the issue is worth more than the value of the money.

But, says Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz, a lot of special interests are still free to contribute despite the DNC ban.

DANNY DIAZ: Former lobbyists, unregistered lobbyists, firm partners of lobbyists, state lobbyists…. This is simply a PR stunt.

Asked whether the RNC plans to take a similar step and ban lobbyist and PAC contributions, Diaz said this:

DIAZ: We don’t plan on changing our process at this point.

But individual politicians might, particularly if they’re able to duplicate Barack Obama’s incredible fundraising success, mostly small donations, without which none of this would be happening.

Douglas Weber is with the Center for Responsive Politics:

Douglas Weber: If it does work, if Obama’s model of getting a lot of small individual donations can be duplicated, that does change the fundraising landscape quite a lot.

Weber says you’ll know the landscape has changed if congressional candidates are able to ban lobbyist and PAC contributions and still get elected.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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