WaPo Story on K Street Fundraising Oversells, Lacks Context
The Washington Post has a good piece out today that quantifies something that until now had remained a guess: how many lobbyists are raising how much for the Republican presidential field. The Post reports:
More than 100 registered lobbyists have contributed to Romney, giving nearly $200,000 in direct donations, according to a Washington Post analysis of donor and lobbying records. A team of lobbyist fundraisers has also bundled together nearly $1 million in contributions for Romney's campaign, disclosure records show. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who entered the race in August, took in at least $72,000 in contributions from 42 lobbyists through September, plus $77,000 bundled by a bank executive. Dozens of Washington lobbyists have also given money to trailing candidates Jon Huntsman Jr., Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, the analysis shows.
That is smart reporting that tells readers something they didn't know. But the Post oversold the goods. Check out the story's lede:
K Street is playing an increasingly central role in the 2012 presidential race, as hundreds of lobbyists representing some of the world's largest corporations and trade groups pour money into Republican coffers.
And then later:
The early pace of donations underscores the pivotal importance that K Street donors are likely to play in driving up spending during the 2012 elections...
The story is making the case that lobbyists are central to the campaigns' fundraising. But, when put into context, K Street is playing, at best, a supporting role.
Let's use Romney as an example, since, according to the Post's analysis, he has racked up the most influence money so far. He's raised almost $200,000 from lobbyists and they bundled $1 million more. But that $1.2 million pales in comparison to the $32 million Romney has raised so far this cycle. Same holds true for Perry. He brought in about $150,000 in direct and bundled money from K Street and a bank executive, which is a small percentage of the $17 million he raised this past quarter.
The Post also says that more than 140 lobbyists have helped raise money for the GOP presidential field. But that's in a town that has more than 12,000 lobbyists. Of course, not all of those influence peddlers are power brokers, but roughly 150 lobbyists is by no means a K Street cattle call either.
Certainly, the fundraising prowess of Washington insiders is a sought after commodity among GOP presidential campaigns. The Post does an admirable job putting a number to something that the media often talks about in the abstract but before now had failed to make real for readers.
But the story overplayed the importance of K Street fundraising to the presidential race, something a little more context could have avoided.