Kerry Releases Records
John F. Kerry yesterday disclosed nearly 200 meetings he has held with lobbyists since 1989, including dozens having business before his Senate committees, as the presumptive Democratic nominee sought to draw a sharp contrast with what he describes as the Bush administration’s more secretive and expansive dealings with corporate lobbyists.
No member of Congress-turned-presidential candidate has ever listed in such detail contacts with lobbyists, who are paid to influence policy decisions.
In an 11-page document provided to The Washington Post before wider release today, the senator from Massachusetts detailed the participants and dates of private meetings in his Senate office with lobbyists representing clients including labor unions, trial lawyers, environmental groups, and such major corporations as Microsoft and IBM.
[snip long summation of the “usual Democratic suspects” that would be expected to have lobbied Kerry]
Kerry is moving quickly to address criticism from President Bush and others that he is refusing to provide voters a fuller view of everything from his personal finances to his combat and medical records. Since Tuesday night, Kerry has been posting his military records on his Web site and promised additional medical information soon.
The campaign also is rethinking its decision to keep secret the tax records of the candidate’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, a top aide said.
After days of playing defense on the disclosure issue, Kerry is going on the offensive by releasing these records. The extraordinary disclosure, which goes well beyond public disclosure laws, was an implicit and strategically timed challenge to Bush to prove that he is not in lobbyists’ thrall, as Bush often portrays him. Kerry came under attack from Bush and Democratic rivals earlier in the campaign after it was reported he had received more money from lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years.
The White House is fighting to keep secret meetings between top administration officials and energy industry lobbyists. The Supreme Court on April 27 will decide whether Vice President Cheney should disclose meetings with oil, gas, coal and nuclear industry lobbyists conducted before he wrote a new national energy policy. Kerry has been a sharp critic of those deliberations, and demanded public disclosure.
“We released this information today,” Kerry campaign spokesman, Chad Clanton said. “Now it’s the Bush campaign’s turn to release the list of oil company lobbyists in Cheney’s secret energy task force that rewrote our energy policy.”
It’s an interesting strategy. I’m not sure whether it’ll have any effect on the race, although I’d guess not. Frankly, these things don’t much interest me; I can’t imagine too many non-politics junkies would care.