Two weeks ago, Republic Report announced Sell Out Of The Week, a regular feature for the blog. President Obama gained the distinction for breaking his promise, and embracing unlimited corporate money for his super PAC, while refusing to take simple steps to clean up the system. Last week, we highlighted Democratic consultant Joe Trippi, who went from promoting the Internet as a tool to expand democracy to working for a dictatorship that censors the Internet and tortures its own people. Today, our Sell Out Of The Week is Rick Santorum.
As the anyone-but-Mitt Republican primary rolls on, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum has taken the lead in the polls, calling himself the “best conservative choice” for president. His campaign website boasts that even after he left elected office in 2007, Santorum “vociferously opposed TARP” as well as “the various ‘stimulus‘ packages.” But Santorum’s positioning as the a pure conservative, driven by beliefs and values rather than self-serving greed, contrasts sharply with his record.
Though Newt Gingrich has weathered the most criticism for lobbying — albeit without registering — for corporate clients after leaving office, Santorum is guilty of the same K Street sins. Santorum, who never registered as a lobbyist, worked as a “consultant” for a lobbying firm called American Continental Group (ACG).
Republic Report reviewed lobbying records from ACG, and discovered that the firm represented several clients seeking funds from President Obama’s stimulus program. While ACG paid Santorum $65,000 in 2010 as a “consultant,” ACG worked with clients on stimulus issues. For instance, the West Penn Allegheny Health System paid Santorum’s firm tens of thousands to help with “Health issues in [the] Stimulus Bill.”
View a copy of the form filed with the Senate here, and a screen shot below:
According to disclosures from the Obama administration, ACG’s client, West Penn Allegheny Health System, ultimately did win some stimulus money. In 2009, ACG lined up a number of other stimulus clients, including the Buffalo Sewer Authority.
Of course, Santorum has a scandal-ridden history when it comes to K Street. He worked closely with Grover Norquist and the House GOP leadership during the Bush years to coerce lobbying firms to hire only Republicans.
Although Santorum’s stimulus hypocrisy may show the weakness of his convictions, it’s not the only example of how corporate money has affected him since leaving office. Last year, ThinkProgress broke the story of how Santorum seemed to be weaving the promotion of a fracking company into his campaign speeches. At campaign stop after campaign stop, Santorum praised the development of the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennslyvania, noting that America could solve its energy problems with more fracking.
It turned out, Santorum was paid $142,500 from a fracking company in Pennslyvania called Consol Energy. In his disclosure forms, Santorum again listed himself as a “consultant” to the company.
Republic Report is an investigative news blog dedicated uncovering the corrupting influence of money in politics.