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Despite ethics pledge, Obama accepted K Street money

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1% of the 1% logo

In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
In his two runs for the White House, President Obama pledged that he would not accept money from registered lobbyists. But his campaign received donations from people who, while not registered, walk and talk an awful lot like lobbyists, including advisors who manage lobbyists. Sunlight's investigation into the political 1 percent of the 1 percent -- the donor class whose members individually contributed at least $12,950 to political campaigns in the 2012 election -- showed that many, many big donors in the influence business have contributed to the president. At least four dozen of them -- lobbyists and employees of lobbying or public relations firms -- contributed to the president in 2011 or 2012. One officially registered lobbyist even donated and unlike the other registered lobbyists who did so, his contribution was not refunded.

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Lobbyists in the 1% of the 1%

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1% of the 1% logo

In the 2012 election 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

 
One way that Washington lobbyists build and maintain relationships is through campaign contributions. So it’s no surprise to see 894 individuals employed at lobbying and public relations firms show up among the 31,385 biggest individual donors – a group we named “the 1% of the 1%” after the share of the U.S. population that they represent. Although not all of these individuals are registered as lobbyists, they all work in the lobbying industry. For shorthand, we simply call them “lobbyists” because their profession is influencing government (for more details on how we classified them, see our methodology section at the end of this post). Though these lobbyists make up only 2.8 percent of the 1% of the 1% and only 2.0 percent of the donations (they gave a combined $34.1 million), their importance in the Washington ecosystem makes them worth a closer look. In some ways lobbyists are similar to other 1% of the 1% donors. The median donation among lobbyists was $27,540, as compared to $26,584 for all of the 1% of the 1%. Lobbyists in the 1% of the 1% are 80.3 percent male, a little more than the 71.8 percent male for the entire 1% of the 1%. These 1% of the 1% lobbyists gave a combined $34.1 million in the 2012 election cycle.

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