Gannett News Service had a story published yesterday headlined "Blunt denies conflict over lobbyist wife." Excerpt:
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, who wed a tobacco lobbyist in October, has not stepped aside from voting on tobacco legislation and continues to accept campaign donations from the industry....
Blunt also is among the top recipients of campaign donations from the tobacco industry, including Philip Morris, the nation's largest cigarette company and one of the 10 biggest campaign contributors to members of Congress. Campaign contributions from the tobacco industry are likely to increase during this election year, particularly as the debate over tobacco heats up....
Blunt is not the only lawmaker who has a spouse who lobbies Congress or is employed in a business that has legislation before Congress.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's wife, Linda Hall Daschle, lobbies on aviation issues and represents 11 clients on behalf of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, a law firm. Linda Daschle's spokeswoman, Julie Goldberg, said the senator's wife does not lobby the Senate and did not lobby the House when the senator from South Dakota was a House member.
American Airlines, one of Linda Daschle's clients, gave Tom Daschle $4000 this election cycle.
The American Association of Airport Executives, one of Linda Daschle's clients, gave Tom Daschle $3,500 this election cycle. Tom Daschle is the top recipient of campaign donations in the Senate from the AAAE for this cycle.
Boeing, one of Linda Daschle's clients, gave Tom Daschle $5000 this election cycle.
Northwest Airlines, one of Linda Daschle's clients, gave Tom Daschle $7,500 this election cycle. Tom Daschle is the top recipient of campaign donations in the Senate from Northwest Airlines this cycle.
Lockheed Martin, one of Linda Daschle's clients, gave Tom Daschle $10,000 this election cycle. Tom Daschle is tied with John McCain for the top recipient of campaign donations in the Senate from Lockheed Martin.
All told, Tom Daschle has received $89,200 in campaign donations from the air transport industry this cycle.
Linda Daschle counters all of this by saying that she doesn't lobby the Senate, as noted in the Gannett story cited above. But Stephanie Mencimer of the Washington Monthly responded to this assertion in a piece she wrote back when Tom Daschle was the majority leader:
[W]hen it comes to lobbying Congress, does it really matter whether a congressional spouse lobbies her husband? The House Democrats on whom Daschle focuses her attention aren't likely to ignore calls from the majority leader's wife. And given the soft currency of Washington's access business, it's awfully hard to separate influence in such concrete ways, especially when many of Daschle's clients are lobbying both her husband and the Senate as well.