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Back in 2012, the Democratic Party pledged to “curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests.” But just four years later, the 2016 nominating convention in Philadelphia “will be officially hosted by lobbyists and corporate executives, a number of whom are actively working to undermine [putatively] progressive policies achieved by President Barack Obama, including health care reform and net neutrality,” Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani at The Intercept report.

The composition of the 15-member Host Committee may appear out of sync with the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that the party, in the form of the Democratic National Committee, has moved decisively to embrace the lobbying industry. In October 2015, DNC. chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., reportedly huddled with dozens of lobbyists to plan the convention in Philadelphia, and provided the influence peddlers involved with a menu of offerings in exchange for donations. In February, news reports revealed that the DNC. had quietly lifted the Obama-era ban on federal lobbyist donations to the party and convention committee.

Anna Adams-Sarthou, the communications director for the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee, wrote in an email to The Intercept that she has “no concerns” about lobbyists participating in the effort, because “the Host Committee is a nonprofit entity that does not lobby.” 

The Host Committee, however, is deeply involved in planning events for the delegates, fundraising, and handling media relations, among other responsibilities.

“Our Host Committee is made up a diverse group of civic leaders that have led efforts like this in the past, many of whom were integrally involved in the bid for Philadelphia to host the Convention,” Adams-Sarthou wrote.

David Cohen is the Special Advisor to the Host Committee, and serves as the Executive Vice President of Comcast, overseeing the company’s lobbying and regulatory strategy. In addition to being a “Hillblazer” — one of Hillary Clinton’s bundlers who has raised $100,000 or more — Cohen has been a particularly bitter and duplicitous leading opponent of the rules regarding net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic must be treated equally. And despite hosting fundraisers for Clinton at his home last summer, Cohen has spent heavily to help elect a Republican Congress, including recent donations to the NRCC; Sen. Toomey; Sen. Scott; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; as well as $33,400 to the NRSC, a committee for helping elect GOP members to the Senate.

The Philadelphia Host Committee chairman, former Gov. Ed Rendell, headed for Wall Street as soon as he left office, and has since represented a number of controversial special interests. In 2011, as New York was debating regulations on fracking, Rendell wrote a pro-fracking opinion column in the New York Daily News, while failing to disclose that he was a paid consultant at a private equity firm that had investments in the industry.

That same year, Rendell started providing paid speeches on behalf of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a fringe Iranian exile group that was considered a terrorist organization by the State Department at the time (it was delisted in 2012).

Continue reading.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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