Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., doesn’t mind taking money from the lobbyists that President Obama routinely attacks — but she doesn’t want to talk about it, either.
“I think this is an inappropriate way of talking to people,” Berkley told a Bloomberg reporter who tried to catch up with her after an exclusive breakfast fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. She suggested the reporter call her office.
Berkley’s dodge caught the eye of top Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston, who will interview her tonight on Face to Face.
Obama has made his official ban on taking campaign donations a central plank of his effort to implement “the most sweeping ethics reform in history,” as he promised in 2009. His campaign routinely suggests that Mitt Romney is a lobbyist and special-interest owned candidate, as the president attempts to take the more high ground while rounding up cash.
Ethical questions for Berkley have already cropped up this year, as the House Ethics Committee is probing her successful efforts to save a kidney transplant center from closing. The ethical quandary arises from the fact that her husband, a doctor, benefited financially from the center remaining open.
Berkley can’t be faulted for not living up to Obama’s standards on lobbyist fundraisers or transparency. After all, the president doesn’t either. “You have attacked lobbyist as being a primary source of political dysfunction, yet you have embraced those lobbyists who choose to call themselves consultants, advisors, or any other name besides a lobbyist,” the American League of Lobbyists remonstrated with Obama last month in a letter.
Vice President Joe Biden recently hired long-time lobbyist Steve Richetti, as The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney noted. And the president has banned registered lobbyists from donating to his campaign, but he allows executives at lobbying firms to raise millions of dollars on his behalf, as Carney reported in October.