The Campaign Spot

Of Course He Won’t Be ‘Lobbying.’ Just ‘Consulting With Clients.’

Howard Dean has joined a lobbying firm.

In his new role as a senior strategic adviser and independent consultant, the firm says Dean will consult with clients on a variety of public policy issues with a focus on health care, energy, and public-private partnerships at the state and local level. The firm says he has no intention of lobbying on behalf of clients.

Same deal as Tom Daschle — he’s not a lobbyist, he’s just giving advice to clients of a lobbying firm.

The New York Times was unimpressed with the distinction in Daschle’s case:

Although Mr. Daschle was not a registered lobbyist, he offered policy advice to the UnitedHealth Group, a huge insurance conglomerate. He was also a trustee of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, on whose behalf he voiced opposition to a federal loan for a freight rail line near the clinic’s headquarters in Rochester, Minn. The loan was subsequently denied by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Mr. Daschle is another in a long line of politicians who move cozily between government and industry. We don’t know that his industry ties would influence his judgments on health issues, but they could potentially throw a cloud over health care reform. Mr. Daschle could clear the atmosphere by withdrawing his name.