As the GOP establishment candidate, Mitt Romney has a cadre of Washington lobbyists helping his presidential campaign. But advising the GOP front-runner can also make a Washington insider's day job tougher. Just ask Rod Hunter.
In October, the senior vice president of international advocacy for PhRMA was named co-chair of Romney's Trade Policy Advisory Group, tasked with helping the candidate "formulate pro-growth trade policies." But Hunter's work for Romney has raised eyebrows among some congressional Democrats who question why Hunter is helping Romney while working big issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.
"To some, it appears PhRMA is counting its chickens well before they've hatched, a questionable move given the scope of international issues the organization has pending before both the administration and Congress," a senior Democratic congressional aide said. "No one is certain why they would let one of their head international guys publicly serve on Team Romney. It's just bizarre."
PhRMA spokesman Matt Bennett defended Hunter.
"Rod Hunter volunteers for the Romney campaign during his personal time, in the same way many individuals in Washington, D.C. work professionally for organizations while offering their personal time to electoral campaigns. We support such participation in our democratic process," Bennett wrote in an email to the Alley.
Romney drew criticism earlier this week when news broke that GOP uber-lobbyist Charlie Black was informally advising the former Massachusetts governor. In 2008, Romney knocked Sen. John McCain for his close ties to Washington insiders like Black, who was then a top presidential campaign aide.
Other Washington lobbyists backing Romney this year include Ron Kaufman, Drew Maloney, Vin Weber, Dave Tamasi and Wayne Berman.