‘Want collusion? Here’s collusion’: Comcast VP/chief lobbyist hosts first Biden fundraiser targeting more big-money lobbyists

Comcast Exec. VP and Chief Lobbyist David Cohen and Dem. presidential candidate Joe Biden

Prolific fundraiser and media mover-shaker David Cohen hosted candidate Joe Biden’s first fundraising event on Thursday in Philadelphia to help the former VP kick off his presidential campaign. Cohen is the chief lobbyist and vice president of Comcast, parent company of NBC News and MSNBC.

According to The Intercept, Cohen invited big-money donors leaning both left and right to his Philadelphia home … most of whom are reportedly corporate lobbyists.

Like other Democratic candidates, Biden is launching his presidential bid with a pledge to reject federal lobbyist cash. But the lobbyists attending his Thursday fundraiser are either unregistered or registered with state entities, not the federal system.

 

As BPR previously reported, Democrat candidates Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker have all broken campaign promises by leveraging the same loophole to collect cash from corporate interests while pledging to eschew funding from federal lobbyists.

Biden, a fixture in D.C. from 1973 to 2016, is known to be tight with many lobbyists, having spent most of his life in “the swamp.” His current campaign is being coordinated by former lobbyist Steve Richetti.

Richetti was Vice President Biden’s chief of staff, a position requiring a special waiver to overcome the Obama ban on employing lobbyists.

According to  The Philly Inquirer, Biden spoke for 15 minutes on Cohen’s back patio to a “crowd of elected officials, lawyers, corporate executives, and others.” Guests were asked to contribute $2,800, the maximum individual donation for the primary campaign.

Biden expressed affinity for Philadelphia, saying some of the people who organized the fund-raiser had been on his side since the start of his career in the 1970s. “You’re the folks who brought me to the dance,” he said. “You’ve been with me and made it possible for me to be able to run. Incredible thing about all of you is, you never ask. I really mean it.”

The Intercept reported that other hosts for Thursday’s fundraiser included Kenneth Jarin, a lobbyist with Ballard Spahr–registered to work for toll road operator Conduent and several health-care operations. Jarin donates to both parties to include gifts to PACs controlled by former Republican House Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner.

An additional fundraiser host is Alan Kessler, a lobbyist working with the firm Duane Morris, and registered to lobby in Pennsylvania for American Airlines and Unisys Corporation, among other corporations. Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is still another host of the event. He is a senior adviser to the lobbying operation at Dentons, a law firm with a huge government affairs operation. Nutter also sits on the board of Conduent.

Host Cohen has himself donated to both Republicans and Democrats over the years. Among invitees to the soiree at his home is Daniel Hilferty, a noted Republican donor. Hilferty is CEO of Independence Blue Cross and is on the board of America’s Health Insurance Plans–a trade association working to defeat the leftist Medicare for All.

Worth noting–though he tends to spread his money around to both Dems and the GOP, Cohen donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.

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Victor Rantala

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