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At a Democratic debate on Oct. 30, 2007, John Edwards criticized Hillary Clinton for taking lots of campaign contributions from lobbyists and others who have a stake in Washington's influence battles. He said, "Do you believe that the candidate who's raised the most money from Washington lobbyists, Democrat or Republican, the candidate who's raised the most money from the health industry, drug companies, health insurance companies, the candidate who's raised the most money from the defense industry, Republican or Democrat -- and the answer to all of those questions is: That's Senator Clinton."
John Edwards is mostly correct in his accounting: Judging from campaign finance filings, Clinton is the favorite candidate of lobbyists and the health care industry. However, there is conflicting data about whether she is the biggest recipient of campaign contributions from the defense industry. An analysis this month by the Center for Responsive Politics and the New York Times shows that as of September 30, 2007, Clinton had received $2.7 million from the health care industry, 24 percent of all contributions to candidates from that industry. The next most popular recipient of health care industry funds was Barack Obama, who pulled in $2.2 million, or 19 percent of the total.
Clinton was also, as Edwards asserts, the leading recipient of money from employees of drug companies and health insurance companies.
Edward's claim about Clinton's contributions from lobbyists also holds true, but with a caveat.
Clinton raised $517,525 from registered lobbyists in the first three quarters of this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. This is $200,000 more than the next biggest recipient, Republican John McCain, and more than twice as much as the second biggest Democratic recipient, Chris Dodd.
These numbers, however, reflect a broad definition of lobbyists. They not only include what Edwards calls "Washington lobbyists" — those registered with Congress -- but also include those who work on the state and local level. Clinton accepts contributions from federal lobbyists (Edwards and Obama do not), making it likely that much of her total haul from lobbyists comes from those in Washington.
But is Clinton also the favored candidate of the defense industry? That depends on the numbers you look at.
In October, the Huffington Post, a liberal blog, analyzed Federal Election Commission data on the campaign contributions from employees of the top five U.S. arms makers. Their study found that these individuals gave Clinton a total of $52,600, more than half of the total going to all Democratic candidates and equal to 60 percent of the total for Republican presidential hopefuls.
But more extensive data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the number one recipient from defense industry employees is, in fact, Dodd. The single-digit-polling Senator from Connecticut gathered $168,800 from the defense industry in the first nine months of this year, the Center found, while Clinton came in a close second with $123,583.
So overall, we find Edwards attack on Clinton to be Mostly True.
Open Secrets, Lobbyist Contributions to presidential candidates
Open Secrets, Health Professionals' contributions to presidential candidates
Open Secrets, Pharmaceuticals/ Health Products Industry's contributions to presidential candidates
The New York Times, Health Sector Puts Its Money on Democrats October 29, 2007
Huffington Post, Analysis of defense industry contributions
Center for Responsive Politics, analysis of defense industry figures for PolitiFact
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