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Axelrod hits at Boehner’s ‘tight ties’ to lobbyists

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
Sunday, September 12, 2010 14:22 EDT
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Boehner’s plan will raise taxes on 110 million families, White House adviser says

Spent $116,000 on country clubs in past 18 months, NYT reports

Senior White House advisor David Axelrod pointed Sunday to what may be the Democrats’ strategy to prevent House Minority Leader John Boehner from becoming the next House speaker.

Referring to a report in Sunday’s New York Times, Axelrod said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the lobbyist community in Washington has “rallied to” Boehner’s campaign and “spent millions of dollars so that they can go back to writing the rules themselves.

“They say, ‘We don’t need to buy access to Mr. Boehner, we already have that, we want him in power so that we’re in power,” Axelrod said.

The Times report described Boehner as “a leader tightly bound” to lobbyists:

He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.

They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.

Some of the lobbyists readily acknowledge routinely seeking his office’s help — calling the congressman and his aides as often as several times a week — to advance their agenda in Washington. And in many cases, Mr. Boehner has helped them out.

The Times notes that the chain-smoking Boehner has especially close ties to the tobacco industry. Between 2000 and 2007, Boehner flew at least 45 times on corporate jets owned by companies that include cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds. People affiliated with the company have contributed at least $430,000 to Boehner’s campaigns.

Also in Boehner’s inner circle of lobbyists is Bruce Gates, who represents Altria, the tobacco company formerly known as Philip Morris.

The report also notes that Boehner has a seemingly insatiable taste for the high life: His expenses show in the past 18 months he has spent $116,000 at three country clubs in Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

TAX HIKES FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS?

On Meet the Press Sunday, Axelrod also accused Boehner of planning a tax hike for the middle class while pushing tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs to foreign countries.

“You listen to what John Boehner … has said about what he wants to do about the economy. He said he wants to restore the tax cuts to companies that ship our jobs overseas. He wants to cancel the Obama tax cuts that were part of the Recovery Act for the middle class and raise taxes on 110 million families, and yet he wants to borrow $700 billion to give millionaires and billionaires another tax cut and add to our deficits,” Axelrod told NBC’s David Gregory.

TalkingPointsMemo’s Christina Bellantoni reports that the Democrats are about to launch a new ad against Boehner, in which they accuse him of being “anti-jobs” because of his stance supporting companies that outsource jobs.

“Democrats are planning to use outsourcing against the GOP more on the campaign trail this fall,” Bellantoni reports.

Boehner’s staff are reportedly livid over the Times report, and have accused the paper of intentionally missing opportunities to give Boehner’s side of the story.

This video is from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast Sept. 12, 2010.


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