In the Obama campaign’s latest effort to intimidate or at least demonize its political opponents, campaign manager Jim Messina revealed that when he says “lobbyist” he basically means “Republican donor.”
In a letter last summer, Messina manager wrote "We didn't accept one single dollar from Washington lobbyists." Then in the fall, he wrote "we don't accept any money from special-interest groups or Washington lobbyists." He's said that sort of thing constantly, and it's always been misleading at best.
Obama and Messina took a $35,800 donation from a "government relations firm" that had recently deregistered as a lobbying firm, a contribution from Siemens' VP for federal lobbying (a former Obama Energy Department official, btw), from both the president and the CEO of a registered lobbying firm, from a corporate executive who describes himself as an "evangelist" and whom we know lobbies the administration for policies aiding his company, and from VPs for "public affairs" or "public policy" at companies like Verizon and Google.
So, by the common understanding of the word lobbyist, Obama and Messina are certainly accepting lobbyist donations. But instead of using the word the way most people understand it, Obama and his team, as is their style, use the word in a misleading way that allows them to paint themselves in a flattering light. They decide that you are only a lobbyist if you register to lobby the federal government under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Since the Obama administration hasn’t visibly enforced the LDA’s registration requirements, this is a nearly meaningless definition of lobbyist.
And campaign manager Jim Messina has made it clear that he thinks this is a bogus definition of “lobbyist.” In his latest letter, Messina described Koch Industries president for government and public affairs Philip Ellender as “their lobbyist in chief.” This is a fair description. But Ellender hasn’t been registered to lobby since 2010, which, by Messina’s standard definition makes him not a lobbyist.
Again, "special interests" and "lobbyists" coming from this White House and campaign simply mean "people resisting our agenda and political goals."