While the Obama and McCain campaigns jab at each other over who is linked to the greater number of lobbyists, Hillary Clinton has managed to stay clear of their recent spats--even though one of her top advisers is a big-name Washington dealmaker. Harold Ickes, a longtime Clinton family confidante and member of the Democratic National Committee, is a registered lobbyist with the Ickes and Enright Group.
Lobbying disclosure forms show that in 2007, when the Senate was preparing a bill called the Labor, (Health and Human Services) and Education Appropriations Act 2008, Ickes lobbied Congress on behalf of the Brooklyn Public Library and the New York Hall of Science. Records show Clinton and fellow New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer earmarked $500,000 for the Brooklyn Public Library and $600,000 for the New York Hall of Science.
Philippe Reines, a spokesperson for Clinton's Senate office, said the senator has had no "official contact" with Ickes as a lobbyist and "undertook no actions on his behalf." Phil Singer, a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, said there is no relationship between Ickes's lobbying activities and the campaign. Ickes, who lobbied for at least nine other clients in 2007, did not respond to several requests for comment. A spokesman for Schumer said he was not familiar with the bill and could not comment. The New York Hall of Science's government-affairs director, Dan Wempa, declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Brooklyn library declined to comment on the lobbying but said the institution expects to receive the allotted funding this fall.
This isn't the first time that questions about lobbyists have touched the Clinton campaign. Top strategist Mark Penn stepped down in April after a dustup over his meeting with the Colombian government about a free-trade agreement the New York senator opposes.
Ickes's lobbying practice isn't limited to public libraries and science museums. In his 10 years of lobbying, his clients have included Verizon Communications, United Airlines, the Service Employees International Union, the London-based insurance giant Equitas and the City of New York. In 2007, the firm's income from lobbying was $830,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a group that tracks the lobbying industry.
Currently, Ickes is only registered to lobby for the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, a group that represents the nursing-home industry. Lobbying disclosure forms show Ickes lobbied Congress on behalf of the group this year for Medicare and Medicaid rates, improving Medicare beneficiary access and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Clinton hasn't always sided with her friend's clients. In 2006, Ickes represented TransCanada Corp., an energy company whose subsidiary wanted to build a liquid natural gas pipeline in the Long Island Sound. Clinton and Schumer vehemently opposed the idea and joined with New York and Connecticut lawmakers to stifle its construction. Clinton proposed legislation earlier this year that would strip the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of its authority to allow companies to build such facilities in state water. In March, FERC gave Shell and TransCanada permission to build the facility—called Broadwater Energy—in the Long Island Sound.
This weekend, Ickes will be engaged in lobbying of a different sort: He will be a leading advocate for Clinton at this weekend's meeting of the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee where he will try to have the embattled delegations from Michigan and Florida seated in August's convention.