Massachusetts Senate Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren likes to talk about how "Washington is wired for those on Wall Street who can hire lobbyists and lawyers, but it doesn't work very well for the rest of us."
But what Warren doesn't mention on the campaign trail is that she hired a lobbying firm herself nine years ago to promote her then-forthcoming book The Two-Income Trap, and to push "work/family policy proposals." She paid the Raben Group $32,000 to lobby Congress on her behalf for a year starting in June 2003.
The lobbyists on her account included Robert Raben -- who has lobbied for General Electric and MasterCard, the kind of corporate behemoths that Warren criticizes for hiring armies of lobbyist to rig Washington to benefit their bottom lines -- and Melody Barnes, who later worked in the Obama White House.
Asked why Warren hired a lobbying firm and how she can campaign against the undue power of lobbyists in Washington when she has used them herself, campaign spokeswoman Alethea Harney emailed the Alley:
Elizabeth is the author of several books and many academic articles about what has happened to the middle class in this country - about how incomes have stayed flat while expenses like health care and child care and mortgages have gone way up. She's been alarmed about the results of her research for years, and for years she's been frustrated that Washington just doesn't get it.
Using advance money from her book The Two Income Trap, Elizabeth hired people who work in Washington to help get her research on how middle class families have gotten chipped at, squeezed, and hammered to policymakers and others. The person Elizabeth worked with at the Raben Group was Melody Barnes, a former staffer for Senator Kennedy and former Obama White House official.
This was a part of her career-long advocacy to level the playing field for families and consumers that too often get the short end of the stick in Washington, where Wall Street banks and other big corporations can hire armies of lobbyists to do their bidding. It is Elizabeth's life's work and it's what she'll fight for in the U.S. Senate, too.