Despite pledge, Biden hauls in 2020 donations from lobbyists

/ AP

Do voters care about Biden's gaffes?

Joe Biden entered the Democratic primary promising "from day one" to reject campaign cash from lobbyists.

"I work for you — not any industry," he tweeted.

Yet hours after his April campaign kickoff, the former vice president went to a fundraiser at the home of a lobbying executive. And in the months since, he's done it again and again.

Trending News

It's difficult to quantify how much Biden has raised from the multibillion-dollar influence industry, but the roughly $200,000 he accepted from employees of major lobbying firms is far more than any of his rivals has received, according to a review of campaign finance data by The Associated Press.

Though it's a small fraction of the $21.5 million he reported raising in the second quarter of 2019, the money demonstrates a comfort with an industry that is the object of scorn of Democratic activists and some of Biden's principal rivals.

Biden's pledge applies only to federally registered lobbyists, and most of the money tracked by the AP was from others in the influence industry. But thousands of dollars did come from federally registered lobbyists, and Biden's campaign said it is returning such donations.

His campaign accepted roughly $6,000 in contributions from at least six federally registered lobbyists, including representatives of Google, aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin, and pharmaceutical companies, records show. An additional $5,750 was donated by two lobbyists who had been registered shortly before making contributions to Biden's campaign, records show.

In at least two instances, donations came from lobbyists with criminal records who have served time in federal prison.

Former Florida Rep. Lawrence J. Smith, a federally registered lobbyist representing the city of Pembroke Pines, gave Biden $1,000 after attending a fundraiser in May. Smith left Congress in 1993 after it was revealed he bounced 161 bad checks. He was convicted months later of tax evasion and using campaign cash to settle a gambling debt.

Maryland statehouse lobbyist Gerard E. Evans gave Biden $2,600, records show. He was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison in 2000 after being found guilty of participating in an elaborate fake legislation scheme that bilked clients out of more than $400,000 in lobbying fees, according to court records.

Excluded from Biden's pledge are lobbyists who work at the state level and those who lobby, or supervise lobbyists, but do not meet the legal threshold requiring them to register.

Spokesman Matt Hill said in a statement that Biden will "fight the influence of corporations and special interests in our political system, which is why his campaign refuses donations from corporations, their PACs, and federal lobbyists."

Biden's approach contrasts sharply with Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who have built their campaigns around a vow to reject big money in politics. Both have sworn off big-dollar fundraisers, while Biden has embraced them.

Such an embrace "doesn't mean your positions are up for sale," said John Wonderlich, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group that advocates for government transparency. But it "can certainly change what issues seem the most salient and whose voice gets heard."

Biden is not alone in accepting contributions from the influence industry. President Donald Trump vowed to "drain the swamp" but has since reaped contributions from powerful industries with business before his administration. And many of Biden's Democratic rivals have made similar pledges that also include subtle caveats and omissions.

Still, he collected about $30,000 more from employees of top lobbying firms than California Sen. Kamala Harris and roughly $100,000 more than South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both of whom made similar pledges but have been in the race longer than him. Every other White House hopeful received far less.

Several recent fundraisers held for Biden highlight his ties to prominent figures in the influence business, many of whom have been active in Washington for decades.

In August, Biden was feted at the home of Nelson W. Cunningham, president and co-founder of McLarty Associates and a former adviser to Bill Clinton. The global public affairs firm represents Chevron, General Electric, Walmart and Uber, but notes on its website that the list only includes "the ones we can mention."

Several days before, Biden attended a fundraiser at the Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home of Peter Shields, the leader of Washington-based Wiley Rein, a firm with recent lobbying clients that include AT&T, global mining company Glencore, Nucor steel, Verizon and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

His campaign kickoff fundraiser was at the Philadelphia home of David L. Cohen, a Comcast executive who oversees the telecom giant's lobbying operation.

Biden's campaign says the fundraiser hosts are not registered lobbyists and often have diverse work portfolios that include much more than government relations. But they are also players in the influence game.

Biden's pledge to reject money from lobbyists is a change for him. Before he entered the 2020 race, his American Possibilities political action committee had no such prohibition.

The PAC, which Biden used to finance his political activities after leaving the White House in 2017, accepted at least $113,000 from at least a dozen current and formerly registered lobbyists, in addition to more than 30 others who work in the influence industry, records show. Among them are representatives for Boeing, Apple, the NFL, Facebook, General Motors and the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, as well as other representatives of the big pharmaceutical, tech, telecom and financial services companies, records show.

One of the top recipients of money from the PAC was a company Biden created.

His campaign says the $137,000 routed to Biden's company, Celtic Capri, was used to pay or reimburse aides for work, such as during last year's midterm elections when Biden kept up an aggressive campaign schedule.

Yet the move is commonly used to avoid disclosing how political money is spent. Because the money was routed to Celtic Capri, campaign finance records don't detail the end recipient of the payments, which are listed as reimbursements or "staff support." Around the same time, Biden collected $425,000 in salary from Celtic Capri, according to a financial disclosure.

Adav Noti, a former Federal Election Commission attorney, said the use of limited liability companies such as these is a growing problem. "The ultimate recipients of the money aren't disclosed. Sometimes it's for legitimate, or quasi-legitimate, reasons. And sometimes it's for illegitimate reasons."

First published on September 3, 2019 / 6:59 AM

© 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Pence defends decision to stay at Trump Doonbeg property

Pence's chief of staff Marc Short said that the decision to stay at Trump International Golf Links in Doonbeg was made at the president's "suggestion"

10M ago gettyimages-1165325664-594x594.jpg Fried food

Doctors say diet of fries and chips made teen "fussy eater" blind

British doctors cite case of boy in England to warn that poor nutrition can permanently damage vision, along with everything else

22M ago Fried food Afghan men carry the dead body of a civilian at the site of a blast in Kabul

As U.S. touts peace deal "in principle," Taliban bomb kills almost 20

Huge suicide bomb tears through homes near compound housing foreigners, infuriating locals who then set part of the "Green Village" on fire

2H ago Afghan men carry the dead body of a civilian at the site of a blast in Kabul 0902-en-mandatoryevacuation-strassmamn-1925307-640x360.jpg

Nursing homes in Florida evacuate ahead of Hurricane Dorian

More than 90 nursing homes and seven hospitals have been evacuated ahead of Hurricane Dorian, but some residents don't want to leave

11H ago 0902-en-mandatoryevacuation-strassmamn-1925307-640x360.jpg Florida Prepares For The Arrival Of Hurricane Dorian

How to help communities affected by Hurricane Dorian

The International Red Cross believes as many as 13,000 homes have been severely damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Dorian

11H ago Florida Prepares For The Arrival Of Hurricane Dorian gettyimages-1165325664-594x594.jpg

Pence defends decision to stay at Trump Doonbeg property

Pence's chief of staff Marc Short said that the decision to stay at Trump International Golf Links in Doonbeg was made at the president's "suggestion"

10M ago gettyimages-1165325664-594x594.jpg Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Campaigns In Iowa

Despite pledge, Biden hauls in 2020 donations from lobbyists

The roughly $200,000 he accepted from employees of major lobbying firms is far more than any of his rivals has received

21M ago Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Campaigns In Iowa A diving vessel burns off the coast of Southern California on September 2, 2019.

SoCal boat fire death toll jumps and several still missing

More bodies recovered but several people still not found after fire raced through craft carrying scuba divers off Santa Cruz Island

5H ago A diving vessel burns off the coast of Southern California on September 2, 2019. Joe Manchin

Joe Manchin to announce his political future on Tuesday morning

CBS News' Ed O'Keefe reports Manchin is set to announce Tuesday morning whether or not he plans to run again for his old job as West Virginia governor

8H ago Joe Manchin screen-shot-2019-09-02-at-8-12-33-pm.png

Dierks Bentley ticketed for fishing in Colorado without license

Bentley admitted to getting the citation in a video he posted on Twitter

9H ago screen-shot-2019-09-02-at-8-12-33-pm.png gettyimages-1165325664-594x594.jpg

Pence defends decision to stay at Trump Doonbeg property

Pence's chief of staff Marc Short said that the decision to stay at Trump International Golf Links in Doonbeg was made at the president's "suggestion"

10M ago gettyimages-1165325664-594x594.jpg Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Campaigns In Iowa

Despite pledge, Biden hauls in 2020 donations from lobbyists

The roughly $200,000 he accepted from employees of major lobbying firms is far more than any of his rivals has received

21M ago Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Campaigns In Iowa Afghan men carry the dead body of a civilian at the site of a blast in Kabul

As U.S. touts peace deal "in principle," Taliban bomb kills almost 20

Huge suicide bomb tears through homes near compound housing foreigners, infuriating locals who then set part of the "Green Village" on fire

2H ago Afghan men carry the dead body of a civilian at the site of a blast in Kabul Joe Manchin

Joe Manchin to announce his political future on Tuesday morning

CBS News' Ed O'Keefe reports Manchin is set to announce Tuesday morning whether or not he plans to run again for his old job as West Virginia governor

8H ago Joe Manchin Donald Trump, Debra Messing

Debra Messing, Donald Trump argue over Twitter about fundraiser

The "Will and Grace" star urged others to share who they've donated to and posted her own donor list

11H ago Donald Trump, Debra Messing screen-shot-2019-09-02-at-8-12-33-pm.png

Dierks Bentley ticketed for fishing in Colorado without license

Bentley admitted to getting the citation in a video he posted on Twitter

9H ago screen-shot-2019-09-02-at-8-12-33-pm.png Donald Trump, Debra Messing

Debra Messing, Donald Trump argue over Twitter about fundraiser

The "Will and Grace" star urged others to share who they've donated to and posted her own donor list

11H ago Donald Trump, Debra Messing Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Central Intelligence" - Arrivals

After Kevin Hart car accident, "The Rock" posts emotional message

"We have a lot more laughing to do together. Love you man. Stay strong," the star wrote on Instagram

11H ago Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Central Intelligence" - Arrivals untitled-collage-12.jpg

Larry David to narrate new "Go the F*** to Sleep" book

What better narrator than David, who is known to voice his annoyance, no matter who the perpetrator

17H ago untitled-collage-12.jpg 'The Secret Life Of Pets 2' Australian Premiere - Arrivals

Kevin Hart suffers "major back injuries" in car crash

The driver was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of the early morning collision

15H ago 'The Secret Life Of Pets 2' Australian Premiere - Arrivals air-bag-crash-test-dummy-promo.jpg

Almanac: Air bags

On September 1, 1998, the safety device became mandatory in all new cars and light trucks in the U.S., subsequently saving tens of thousands of lives

Sep 1 air-bag-crash-test-dummy-promo.jpg Apple Holds Product Launch Event At New Campus In Cupertino

Hackers breached iPhones for years, Google says

Cybercriminals implanted iPhones with spyware by exploiting a hole in Apple's operating system

Aug 30 Apple Holds Product Launch Event At New Campus In Cupertino SWITZERLAND-ECONOMY-DIPLOMACY-POLITICS-DAVOS-SUMMIT

Billionaire Jack Ma says AI will lead to a 12-hour workweek

Alibaba founder predicts AI advancements will mean shorter workweeks for people — that might not be good news

Aug 30 SWITZERLAND-ECONOMY-DIPLOMACY-POLITICS-DAVOS-SUMMIT 0829-ctm-ringprivacyconcerns-yuccas-1922791-640x360.jpg

Ring security system's work with police raises privacy concerns

The Amazon-owned doorbell camera company says more than 400 law enforcement agencies use its "Neighborhood Watch" program, giving police potential access to customers' videos

Aug 29 0829-ctm-ringprivacyconcerns-yuccas-1922791-640x360.jpg Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook tightens rules for political ads, but loopholes remain

Company says it will confirm the identity of organizations that buy ads related to social and political issues

Aug 28 Mark Zuckerberg 0830-labgrownmeat-doane.jpg

Inside the labs creating meat from stem cells

High-tech laboratories in Israel are pioneering slaughter-free meat created out of cells from farm animal tissues. It's real steak and real chicken, but no animals are hurt.

Aug 30 0830-labgrownmeat-doane.jpg Texas Oil Companies Work To Adapt To Falling Oil Prices

Who are the biggest U.S. methane emitters?

Trump administration's move to weaken pollution rules is a missed opportunity to tackle a solvable climate problem

Aug 30 Texas Oil Companies Work To Adapt To Falling Oil Prices dead-staghorn-coral.png

Australia downgrades outlook for Great Barrier Reef over warming

Government agency changes health prognosis for world's biggest reef from "poor" to "very poor" as world's oceans warm up

Aug 30 dead-staghorn-coral.png DNA and genetics research concept. Hand is holding glowing DNA molecule in hand.

Is there a "gay gene"? Major new study says no

There's no such thing as a single gene that drives a person's sexual behavior, according to the largest study ever done on the subject

Aug 29 DNA and genetics research concept. Hand is holding glowing DNA molecule in hand. Hurricane Dorian leaves the Caribbean Sea and tracks toward the Florida coast in this NOAA satellite image taken at 10:20 a.m. ET August 29, 2019.

Kennedy Space Center bracing for Hurricane Dorian

NASA is hauling a massive launch gantry off the launch pad to avoid the threat of hurricane winds

Aug 29 Hurricane Dorian leaves the Caribbean Sea and tracks toward the Florida coast in this NOAA satellite image taken at 10:20 a.m. ET August 29, 2019. Fried food

Doctors say diet of fries and chips made teen "fussy eater" blind

British doctors cite case of boy in England to warn that poor nutrition can permanently damage vision, along with everything else

22M ago Fried food 0902-en-bariatricsurgery-lapook-1925336-640x360.jpg

Study finds weight loss surgery decreases heart attack risk

In addition, people who had the surgery were 41% less likely to die from any cause during the study

12H ago 0902-en-bariatricsurgery-lapook-1925336-640x360.jpg salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg

Salmonella tied to backyard poultry flocks surpasses 1,000 cases

Raising chickens at home is the top cause of infection blamed for 1,003 illnesses in 49 states, including two deaths

14H ago salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg arnold-academy-london-relaxation-exercises-promo.jpg

Mindfulness techniques teaching students to calm down

Researchers launch three-year study to test whether relaxation exercises can reduce stress and improve mental health of children in England, where anxiety among kids is rising

22H ago arnold-academy-london-relaxation-exercises-promo.jpg nfa-werner-juul-investigation-needs-tracks-and-gfx-frame-325.jpg

Juul being investigated for role in teen vaping

Attorneys general in Illinois and Washington, D.C. are looking into how the company's vaping device became so popular with teens

Aug 30 nfa-werner-juul-investigation-needs-tracks-and-gfx-frame-325.jpg US-CHINA-TRADE-TARIFFS

5 U.S. industries feeling sting of latest China tariffs

President's latest China tariffs are now in effect — here are the American companies hit hardest by his taxes on imports

18H ago US-CHINA-TRADE-TARIFFS salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg

Salmonella tied to backyard poultry flocks surpasses 1,000 cases

Raising chickens at home is the top cause of infection blamed for 1,003 illnesses in 49 states, including two deaths

14H ago salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg Beautiful card with congratulations on Labor Day

Labor Day celebrates workers, but not everyone's winning

Although unemployment is at a half-century low, the U.S. economy isn't rewarding all workers

Sep 2 Beautiful card with congratulations on Labor Day Local residents fill sandbags ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Kissimmee

668,000 Florida homes at risk from Hurricane Dorian

Property losses could range as high as $150 billion, while most homeowners in storm's path lack flood insurance

Aug 30 Local residents fill sandbags ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Dorian in Kissimmee sara-nelson-picket-line.jpg

Sara Nelson, the new face of labor unions

The president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA has been called the most powerful labor leader in the country, as she has fought for increased safety in the aviation industry

Sep 1 sara-nelson-picket-line.jpg cbsn-fusion-police-cancel-labor-day-parade-in-new-jersey-over-security-concern-thumbnail-1925144-640x360.jpg

"Destructive devices" found near Labor Day parade route in N.J.

Thomas Kaiser, 55, was arrested and charged with possession of a destructive device for an unlawful purpose

10H ago cbsn-fusion-police-cancel-labor-day-parade-in-new-jersey-over-security-concern-thumbnail-1925144-640x360.jpg ap6608010465.jpg

America's deadliest mass shootings

These are the deadliest mass shootings in American history

Aug 5 40 photos ap6608010465.jpg mary-granados-1200x630.jpg

What we know about the Texas mass shooting victims

A gunman's deadly rampage left at least seven people dead and 22 wounded

11H ago mary-granados-1200x630.jpg 0902-en-txshooting-villarreal-1925353-640x360.jpg

Texas gunman called FBI & 911 before rampage

We learned Monday that the gunman who went on a killing spree in west Texas called the FBI and 911 just minutes before Saturday’s rampage. The seven people who were killed ranged from ages 15 to 57. Mireya Villarreal reports.

5H ago 02:07 0902-en-txshooting-villarreal-1925353-640x360.jpg Odessa, Texas, mass shooting

Texas gunman called both police and FBI before shooting rampage

FBI special agent Christopher Combs said the gunman "was on a long spiral down" before the shooting on the day he was fired

11H ago Odessa, Texas, mass shooting cbsn-fusion-president-trump-announces-the-u-s-space-command-is-open-as-part-of-an-approach-to-better-defend-american.jpg

Space

Trump launches U.S. Space Command

President Trump held a Rose Garden event to commemorate the establishment of the U.S. Space Command Thursday, as the president pushes for the creation of his sixth branch of the military, the Space Force. CBS News' Bofta Yimam reports.

Aug 29 01:53 cbsn-fusion-president-trump-announces-the-u-s-space-command-is-open-as-part-of-an-approach-to-better-defend-american.jpg Hurricane Dorian leaves the Caribbean Sea and tracks toward the Florida coast in this NOAA satellite image taken at 10:20 a.m. ET August 29, 2019.

Kennedy Space Center bracing for Hurricane Dorian

NASA is hauling a massive launch gantry off the launch pad to avoid the threat of hurricane winds

Aug 29 Hurricane Dorian leaves the Caribbean Sea and tracks toward the Florida coast in this NOAA satellite image taken at 10:20 a.m. ET August 29, 2019. cbsn-fusion-trump-space-command-ceremony-2019-08-29-thumbnail-1923152-640x360.jpg

Trump establishes U.S. Space Command

President Trump marked the establishment of the U.S. Space Command in the Rose Garden, and unveiled its flag for the first time during a ceremony Thursday afternoon.

Aug 29 03:49 cbsn-fusion-trump-space-command-ceremony-2019-08-29-thumbnail-1923152-640x360.jpg Trump

Trump marks establishment of U.S. Space Command

The president's "Space Force" must receive congressional approval

Aug 29 Trump 082719-hop1.jpg

SpaceX launches "Starhopper" test flight

The Starhopper is testing propulsion systems that will be used in SpaceX's planned heavy lift Starship spacecraft

Aug 27 082719-hop1.jpg Washington Redskins v New England Patriots

Highest-paid NFL players in 2019, ranked

These are the NFL superstars who earn the most cash this season

Aug 29 50 photos Washington Redskins v New England Patriots ashleyfallisparents.jpg

Ashley Fallis death: A family's fight for justice

Was the Colorado mother's 2012 death a suicide, as her husband maintains, or was it murder, as her parents insist?

Aug 24 15 photos ashleyfallisparents.jpg intro-slide.jpg

World's most polluted cities

Air pollution can cause serious health problems for people who are exposed to it, even for just a few minutes

Aug 23 51 photos intro-slide.jpg Fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Brazil

Pictures from the Amazon rainforest fires

A record number of fires have devastated the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and neighboring countries

Aug 22 30 photos Fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Brazil corbett-1.jpg

Jason Corbett murder: A look at the evidence

In August 2015, former FBI agent Tom Martens and his daughter Molly Corbett admitted killing her Irish-born husband Jason Corbett, insisting they beat him in self-defense with a brick paver and a baseball bat because Jason was choking Molly and threatening to kill her

Aug 17 11 photos corbett-1.jpg cbsn-fusion-deadly-southern-california-boat-fire-2019-09-02-latest-updates-thumbnail-1925371-640x360.jpg

Popular

8 killed in Southern California boat fire

Authorities recovered four bodies and located four others near the wreckage of a boat that caught fire off the coast of California. The vessel remains on the ocean floor and has been described as unstable. Watch the latest update here.

10H ago 17:58 cbsn-fusion-deadly-southern-california-boat-fire-2019-09-02-latest-updates-thumbnail-1925371-640x360.jpg 0902-en-stormhelpers-odonnell-1925338-640x360.jpg

How to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian has been pounding the Bahama for more than 30 hours where 13,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed. The Bahamas need help and those in south Florida are stepping up.

11H ago 01:22 0902-en-stormhelpers-odonnell-1925338-640x360.jpg 0902-en-bariatricsurgery-lapook-1925336-640x360.jpg

Bariatric surgery leads to decreased heart attacks & strokes

There's encouraging news for patients who have weight-loss surgery. More than 200,000 Americans each year undergo bariatric surgery. A new study finds the benefits include decreased risks of heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Jon LaPook reports.

11H ago 01:42 0902-en-bariatricsurgery-lapook-1925336-640x360.jpg master-influencers-1920x1080-1917185-640x360.jpg

Kid influencers: Few rules, big money

Being a social media influencer is now considered one of the most popular career aspirations for millennials and Gen Z. But experts warn that regulations need to be put in place as younger and younger influencers share their lives on camera. This episode of CBSN Originals looks at the lives of three families whose kids are popular influencers on social media, while exploring some of the dangers implicit in the “kidfluencer” industry.

Aug 23 23:06 master-influencers-1920x1080-1917185-640x360.jpg 0902-en-txshooting-villarreal-1925353-640x360.jpg

Texas gunman called FBI & 911 before rampage

We learned Monday that the gunman who went on a killing spree in west Texas called the FBI and 911 just minutes before Saturday’s rampage. The seven people who were killed ranged from ages 15 to 57. Mireya Villarreal reports.

5H ago 02:07 0902-en-txshooting-villarreal-1925353-640x360.jpg