(Reuters) - Lobbyists represent special interest groups in Washington and try to influence legislation and regulations that affect their clients. They often raise and donate millions of dollars to congressional and presidential candidates. Critics argue that those contributions can cause government officials to be swayed by the lobbyists’ opinions and lead to gridlock in Washington.
Playing to Americans’ frustration with gridlock, Republican presidential hopefuls and Democratic President Barack Obama have distanced themselves from lobbyists, but continue to receive support from them.
Below are highlights of the Reuters analysis of contributions from registered lobbyists and lobbying political action committees (PACs) to presidential campaigns and their allies at the so-called “Super PAC” outside groups.
BARACK OBAMA * Number of lobbyists: 18 Number of lobbying PACs: none Amount: $22,134
* Obama has decried lobbyists’ influence and said he wouldn’t accept their campaign donations, returning many of them. These numbers account for returned contributions.
PRIORITIES USA (Super PAC, supports Obama) Number of lobbyists: 5 Number of lobbying PACs: 3 Amount: $1.1 million
MITT ROMNEY Number of lobbyists: 350 Number of lobbying PACs: 37 Amount: $609,247
RESTORE OUR FUTURE (Super PAC, supports Romney) Number of lobbyists: 0 Number of lobbying PACs: 3 Amount: $904,000
RICK SANTORUM Number of lobbyists: 19 Number of lobbying PACs: 1 Amount: $19,650
NEWT GINGRICH Number of lobbyists: 42 Number of lobbying PACs: 2 Amount: $73,010
RON PAUL Number of lobbyists: 2 Number of lobbying PACs: 0 Amount: $750
Super PACs supporting Santorum, Gingrich and Paul received no donations from registered lobbyists or their PACS.
Reporting by Alexander Cohen and Alina Selyukh; Editing by Stacey Joyce