CHICAGO—The AFL-CIO forum is going to start in a few minutes and the matter of taking political money from federal lobbyists and political action committees may come up. Here's a quick briefing. There was a time when White House hopeful Barack Obama thought more highly of political action committees than he does now. Specifically in December, 2003, when he was running for his U.S. Senate seat from Illinois and filled out a questionnaire from the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization.
Asked if PACs should be abolished, Obama replied, “Political action committees have enabled labor unions and progressive groups to compete with the hundreds of millions of dollars that corporate interests have poured into political campaigns. The provision of federal matching funds, along with free broadcast time for candidates utilizing the public airwaves, would reduce the necessity and influence of PACs.”
The AFL-CIO forum comes four days after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)—caught flak at YearlyKos from rivals Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) for taking political contributions from political action committees and federal lobbyists.
Obama decided not to take PAC or federal lobbyist money when he opened his presidential campaign fund in February. He features his ban on this money in his speeches and in an ad running in Iowa; it's a central theme of his campaign. Obama did take money from these sources for his state senate, U.S. House and 2004 U.S. Senate race, his own HOPEFUND political action committee and his 2010 U.S. Senate re-election war chest.