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Monday, April 12, 2010

UPDATE: Democratic lobbyist Eizenstat explains his name on donation to Obama

[Originally posted at Beltway Confidential]

On Friday I wrote of a $2,300 donation to Obama for America in 2008 from registered lobbyist and Democratic power-broker Stuart Eizenstat -- in apparent violation of Obama's pledge not to take lobbyist money. My reporting was based on a filing by Obama's campaign with the Federal Election Commission. I've pasted an image of the record below, and you can see it in context here. In the filing, Eizenstat is listed as "retired" although he was actively registered as a lobbyist.

I had called Eizenstat, the White House, and the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday to see if there was an explanation for a maximum donation by a registered lobbyist when Obama said he wouldn't take lobbyist money. The White House directed me to the DNC, whose response was paraphrased in my column. I've included the full relevant portion of the email response below.

Eizenstat (whom I had called Wednesday morning) didn't call me back by deadline last week. Just now, however, he did.

His explanation: his wife had made that contribution on an American Express card. "If I was listed by whoever did the listing, it should have been Fran Eizenstat, not Stuart Eizenstat.” Mrs. Eizenstat gave the maximum to the general in September. The contribution in July was technically for the primary election.

Eizenstat told me it took him so long to call back because he was sorting through bank records to provide a full explanation.

Here's the DNC's response emailed on Thursday to my editor:

On the rare occasion that a proscribed contribution makes it past our screening process because of a technical glitch, we return the contribution as soon as we are made aware of it, and we will be returning the contribution in this case as well."

Background: Eizenstadt made a contribution in 2007 that we flagged and returned. Due to due to a data entry error the 2008 contribution wasn't linked to the 2007 contribution and his status as a lobbyist.

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