Graham Challenger Takes In Over $15,000 From Lobbyists

Jaime Harrison spent past decade lobbying for big banks, coal, and tobacco

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) / Getty Images
July 16, 2019

Democrat Jaime Harrison, a well-connected former corporate lobbyist running to unseat Republican senator Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, received over $15,000 from at least two dozen lobbyists during the second quarter of 2019.

Harrison, who has been quiet about his former career as a corporate lobbyist during recent television interviews and campaign events, spent nearly a decade lobbying for the the now-shuttered Podesta Group, where he worked to advance the interests of coal companies, tobacco companies, and casinos.

During the second quarter of 2019, Harrison received at least $15,750 from lobbyists, including former colleagues of his at the Podesta Group, according to his campaign's most recent filing report.

Among the lobbyists that contributed to Harrison last quarter is Chicago-based consultant William Singer, who donated $250 to Harrison's campaign. Back in 2017, he paid a $25,000 fine after he illegally lobbied then-Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel through his personal email account without registering with the city as a lobbyist. He paid the fine and registered as a lobbyist about eight months after the email was sent.

Darrel Thompson and Christina Antelo, lobbyists who donated $250 and $1,000 respectively to Harrison's campaign, have lobbied on behalf of Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that faced backlash after it was caught inflating the price of EpiPens by nearly 500 percent. Antelo lobbied on Mylan's behalf in 2017 as a Podesta Group employee as the company finalized a $465 million settlement with the federal government in August 2017 for misclassifying the EpiPen.

The Harrison campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the lobbyist contributions.

The Washington Free Beacon previously reported on Harrison's lobbying career, which included many clients that would be frowned upon by progressive voters. Some of the clients included Wells Fargo and Bank of America, private equity firms Avenue Capital and Berkshire Hathaway, and pharmaceutical giants like Novo Nordisk and Merck. He also represented Walmart, BP, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Google.

Harrison's Senate exploratory committee also accepted money from several lobbyists, according to the Center for Responsive Politics:

Maxing out donations to his exploratory committee are a number of prominent lobbyists. Tonio Burgos, leader of the Burgos & Associates lobbying firm, contributed $5,600. Gordon Taylor, president of Ogilvy Government Relations, contributed $1,000. Taylor represents a number of massive corporations in 2019 with clients such as Pfizer, Wells Fargo and oil and gas industry members the American Petroleum Institute and Marathon Petroleum.

Patrice Willoughby, who used to work at the lobbying firm of Heather Podesta, Tony's ex-wife. Willoughby is currently a registered foreign agent for Volodymyr Zelensky, the newly-elected president of Ukraine, reported a $250 contribution to Harrison. Another foreign agent, David Kusnet, who works for Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, contributed $100 to Harrison’s exploratory committee.


Democratic megadonor and owner of Paloma Partners hedge fund, Donald Sussman also contributed the individual maximum of $5,600. Sussman and his business were the top contributor to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.

Kusnet, who used to lobby at the Podesta Group, donated another $500 during the second quarter, making his total amount of donations $600.

Other notable contributions to Harrison's campaign last quarter include $500 from Obama administration official Susan Rice, $1,000 from liberal comedian Rosie O'Donnell, $1,000 from actress Susan Sarandon, $500 from MSNBC contributor Daniel Goldman, and $300 from Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh.