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Ex-Lobbyist Becomes Top Obama Surrogate

October 27, 2011

This article is re-posted from

K Street and Capitol Hill veteran Broderick Johnson is joining the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama as a senior adviser.

Johnson clocked more than a decade of experience in the U.S. House of Representatives, as an attorney, during the 1980s and 1990s. Between 1998 and 2000, he served in senior roles in the Clinton White House, including acting as the president’s principal liaison to the House. And after working for President Bill Clinton, Johnson became a top lobbyist for BellSouth Corp. and AT&T.

During his time in the private sector in Washington, Johnson has also worked for Wiley, Rein & Fielding, the Oliver Group, Bryan Cave Strategies, Bryan Cave LLP and the Collins-Johnson Group, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics.

In addition to AT&T, Johnson’s clients over the years have included numerous political heavy weights, federal lobbying records show, such as Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, Comcast, Fannie Mae, FedEx, Ford, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Shell Oil, Time Warner and Verizon.

Federal records indicate that he has also lobbied on behalf of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the GEO Group (the private prison industry giant) and TransCanada Corp. — although TransCanada spokesman Terry Cunha told Politico Monday that the company’s “government relations operation did not look to and receive lobbying support from Broderick Johnson,” despite what lobbying records show, as the energy company has sought Obama administration approval for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline project.

Over the years, Johnson has also been a political heavy weight in his own right — donating tens of thousands of dollars, mainly to Democratic causes.

According to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2008 election cycle, Johnson donated $53,850 to federal candidates and committees, with 91 percent of that money aiding Democrats. (The rest went to a nonpartisan political action committee.) During the 2010 election cycle, he donated $81,000 — all to Democrats. And so far this year, he has donated $19,000 to Democrats and $900 to the PAC of his former employer Bryan Cave LLP.

Johnson, a native of Baltimore, Md., has also served on the board of directors of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and is the husband of National Public Radio host Michele Norris.

Former Bush Lawyer & Florida Lobbyist Among Obama’s Elite Bundlers

Eleven years ago, Barry Richard served as the lead litigation counsel in Bush v. Gore, the high-stakes legal case surrounding Florida’s recount that effectively delivered the presidency to Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Richard, a lifelong Democrat and attorney at Greenberg Traurig, is married to Allison Tant, who herself was a state-level lobbyist at Holland & Knight in Florida for eight years. Now, the duo is raising big bucks for President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee.

In August, the pair hosted a fund-raiser for the Obama Victory Fund — the joint fund-raising committee that benefits Obama and the DNC — at their home in Tallahassee, Fla. (see screenshot of online invite, right). DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is also a Florida Congresswoman, was in attendance.

According to information released by the Obama campaign earlier this month, Tant is officially among Obama’s elite fund-raisers, bringing in between $50,000 and $100,000 during the third quarter. (Richard’s name does not appear on the campaign’s list of bundlers, which it calls “volunteer fund-raisers.” Notably, the campaign does not provide specific dollar amounts its bundlers have raised, only broad ranges.)

According to a review of campaign finance data by the Center for Responsive Politics, this year, Tant has donated the legal maximum of $5,000 to Obama, while Richard has donated $3,300. During the 2008 election cycle, Tant donated $2,300 to Obama, while Richard donated $1,750. (Neither was named by the campaign as official bundlers four years ago.)

By the Center’s tally, more than 350 bundlers have raised at least $56 million for the Obama campaign and DNC so far this year — or about $1 out of every $3 the groups have raised, as OpenSecrets Blog previously reported.

Richard did not immediately respond to a request by OpenSecrets Blog for comment for this story.

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