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Hillary Clinton To Raise Money From Ex-NRA Lobbyist

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 1/03/2016 Paul Blumenthal

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton’s campaign will hold a fundraiser in Washington on March 21 that will feature as one of its hosts Jeff Forbes, who until the end of last year worked as a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

Forbes, a former chief of staff to former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), was registered as a lobbyist for the NRA Institute from 2009 until the end of 2015 on issues such as protecting Second Amendment rights, and regulation and gun control, according to lobbying disclosures. He donated $2,700 to the Clinton campaign in April when he was still registered to lobby against gun control. In addition, a colleague at his Forbes-Tate lobbying shop, Elizabeth Greer, also donated $2,700 while registered to lobby for the NRA.

The donation, and Forbes's hosting of the upcoming fundraiser, may complicate a central part of Clinton's current broadside against her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The former secretary of state has made support for gun control a major part of her primary campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. She has been especially forceful in contrasting her longtime support for gun control laws to Sanders' record, noting his support for some NRA-backed initiatives in the past.

In a televised CNN debate in October Clinton attacked Sanders for voting against the 1994 Brady bill “five times” and for supporting legislation that extended immunity to gun manufacturers from lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence. Sanders has defended himself by noting his career D-minus rating from the NRA and that he currently endorses the same gun control legislation that Clinton touts.

Asked about the Forbes' fundraiser, Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, responded in an emailed statement, “Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with a record of standing up to the NRA and the more than 850,000 people who have contributed to her campaign know exactly where she stands.”

Receiving contributions from lobbyists or ex-lobbyists for the NRA highlights the difficulty in promoting a progressive message on guns and many others issues while accepting money from registered lobbyists. Clinton declined to extend President Barack Obama’s ban on contributions from lobbyists to her own campaign. The Democratic National Committee has also stated it is ending the Obama ban on lobbyist contributions.

The lobbyist contribution ban was seen by many as largely symbolic (the CEOs and executives who employ the lobbyists could still donate), but it still helped to underscore Obama’s message that he was funded by small donors, even as he raised more money than any other candidate in the modern election period. Further, banning lobbyist contributions prevents the confusion of calling for new gun controls or regulations on fracking or crackdowns on pharmaceutical companies while simultaneously taking money from those who are paid to ensure the opposite policy outcome.

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