Despite a campaign that attacked corporate and special interest lobbyists as evil and banned their money and participation, Sen. Barack Obama has done little, if anything, about their pervasive, free-spending presence at the Democratic convention in Denver
A spokesman for the Obama campaign, Ben LaBolt, said the Senator could not "make changes to this year's convention" because of the "very late end to the primary season."
As a result, lobbyists are once again spending millions of dollars here on gourmet food, top-shelf liquor and private lavish parties for Democratic elected officials who seem more than happy to play the role of world-class freeloaders.
According to Denver's top chefs and caterers, no expense is being spared. Kevin Taylor, of the Denver restaurant Palette, who says he is the only four-star chef in Denver, says he is booked to prepare delicacies for more than 100 "high end, hush-hush events." "The demand is over the top, you've never seen anything like this," said chef Taylor, especially for his signature King Crab terrine appetizer with white champagne caviar.
At the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where rooms for Democratic VIP's are now going for $2,000 a night, the executive chef, Andre Jimenez, says even the room welcome gifts need to be elaborate for the 35 top donors and celebrities, including "the rarest peaches in America."
"It's only for the best of the best that we host here," the chef told ABC News. "We're seeing lobbyists gone wild."
"We will not take another dime from Washington lobbyists," Obama said in a speech June 5, repeating a theme he has main a key to his campaign. "They will not fund my party."
"So Barack Obama, who says that he doesn't want to have any lobbyist money in his campaign, is having a lobbyist bundle money from large corporations, many of which are clients, for the convention that's going to nominate Obama," said Steve Weisman of the Campaign Finance Institute, affiliated with George Washington University.
"Barack Obama is committed to reforming our political system and getting the special interests out of politics," he said, as the first of hundreds of lobbyist-paid parties were getting underway in Denver.