Two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton admitted during an interview Tuesday that former President Barack Obama "took a lot of money" from special interest groups, but claimed it "didn't affect how he governed."
"If you give me money, you will know, because I will tell you publicly and privately what I'm for, so if you're in a high-income tax bracket, I want to tax you," Clinton said during an interview with Vox founder Ezra Klein. "If you want to still give me money, you are going in with your eyes open."
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Clinton went on to talk about Obama, who she said inherited a "disastrous economy," and said he was able to bring the U.S. economy "back out of the abyss."
"[Obama] took a lot of money from a lot of different interests, but it didn't affect how he governed," Clinton said, prompting Klein to challenge her claim.
"I think a lot of President Obama's policies were pretty sound, but also a lot of people feel [he] could have done more to punish bankers, that he could have gone further on health care. There were deals cut before the faculty and pharmaceutical industry … and there other other political realism considerations in all of these questions."
Klein agreed to an extent, saying it was "true" directionally what Clinton was saying, and that some of his policies "cut against the interests that funded him."
"I think a lot of people feel and what I think there is evidence for is that these kinds of donations, etc. they do give people more of a voice," Klein said. "They do give these interests more of a voice and that does affect things certainly on the margins."
Clinton responded by saying there was nothing new about influence in that way.
"You know, it's always been thus," Clinton said. After briefly referencing the musical Hamilton, she added: "If you are running a raucous, pluralistic, diverse democracy where there are literally millions of different voices, you are going to hear from all kinds of different voices."
Obama said several times during his 2008 presidential campaign that he would not allow lobbyists or special interests to run his White House, but he was criticized for breaking that promise when it was reported how administration officials would meet with K Street lobbyists across the street from the White House, the New York Times reported.
On the agenda over espressos and lattes, according to more than a dozen lobbyists and political operatives who have taken part in the sessions, have been front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control — and their impact on the lobbyists’ corporate clients.
But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the "most transparent presidential administration in history."
The off-site meetings, lobbyists say, reveal a disconnect between the Obama administration’s public rhetoric — with Mr. Obama himself frequently thrashing big industries’ "battalions" of lobbyists as enemies of reform — and the administration’s continuing, private dealings with them.