Hillary Locks Up The Backing Of The DC Democratic Establishment

Washington--From the K Street lobbyist corridor to the major gay and lesbian organizations to the city's kingpin consultants and fundraisers to the big feminist groups, Hillary Clinton has acquired a near-lock on the Democratic establishment in the nation's capital. The level of support here for the junior New York Senator approaches what an incumbent president seeking re-election might expect. The people and organizations run the gamut: Togo West, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and CEO of The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the nation's premier black think tank; Elizabeth Bagley, former US Ambassador to Portugal whose Georgetown home has been the gathering place for countless fundraisers; Elizabeth Birch, former head of the Human Rights Campaign, and her former partner, MSNBC and CNBC commentator Hilary Rosen and, of course, former DNC chair and money-man extraordinaire Terry McAuliffe. Those names only touch the surface of Clinton's support among the Democratic establishment. Take Matthew Bernstein, a prominent Hillary-backer. He is a classic Washington success story. Once a lowly legislative assistant to former Senator Howard Metzenbaum, he is now a lobbyist whose clients paid his law firm $1.98 million during just the first half of 2006, according to reports filed with the Senate. Among those clients is the Estate Tax Coalition seeking permanent elimination of the burdensome levy placed on the nation's wealthiest citizens. And then there is Vernon Jordan, one of this city's highest-profile wheeler-dealers, who is now a Clinton $100,000-plus bundler. And Vernon is not the only major bundler in the Jordan family. His wife, Ann Dibble Jordan is also a $100,000-plus bundler whose credentials as a player in Washington include past or present board memberships at Johnson & Johnson, Automatic Data Processing, Citigroup, and Catalyst; service as a trustee at The Brookings Institution, the University of Chicago, WETA (Washington's PBS affiliate), and the Phillips Collection; and chair of the Board of Directors at the National Symphony Orchestra. Barack Obama has ten Washingtonians each committed to raising at least $50,000. Some are well known figures, including former Federal Communications Commission chairman William E. Kennard who is now with the Carlyle Group; and Gregory Craig, who defended President Clinton at his impeachment trial before the Senate. But adding up all the Washington fundraiser-bundlers listed on Public Citizen's White House For Sale web site, Clinton has 21, more than all seven of her Democratic opponents combined, who have 15. Clinton's links to the Democratic establishment and influence centers of Washington D.C. extend deep into the institutional structure of the city. Clinton people are embedded in crucial positions. The Center for American Progress, the most effective of the Democratic think tanks, is run by John Podesta, Bill Clinton's former chief of staff. The more established Brookings Institution is run, in turn, by Strobe Talbot, Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 to 2001 and a close personal friend of the Clintons. Kelly Craighead, who had been an aide to Senator Clinton, is now Managing Director of the Democracy Alliance, a partnership of wealthy Democrats, each of whom is committed to investing substantial sums in liberal organizations selected by the Alliance staff.

One of the ventures financed by the Democracy Alliance is the Data Warehouse, a company putting together lists of both voters and non-voters, and then combining those lists with data on individual consumer buying patterns, religious activity, hobbies, union membership, and a host of other commercially available information. The goal of the Data Warehouse project is to allow Democrats to catch up with - and if possible surpass -- Republicans in the new technologies of micro-targeting and data mining to ensure that as many friendly voters as possible turn out. The Data Warehouse is run by Clinton loyalist and top strategist Harold Ickes.