‘Beach House Bailout’ author gets new life as Obama fundraiser/lobbyist

by R.J. Lehmann on February 9, 2012

The assertion from President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign that it won’t  “take a dime from D.C. lobbyists or special-interest PACs”  has come into question in light of a story broken by The Washington Beacon that a major campaign bundler also happens to be a registered lobbyist.

The bundler/lobbyist in question is none other than former Rep. Ron Klein, D-Fla., who served as lead sponsor of legislation in the 110th and 111th Congresses of legislation that proposed creating a federal backstop to state catastrophe funds and residual market entities. Thankfully, this disastrous bill, which would have asked taxpayers across the country to extend a preemptive bailout to Klein’s home state of Florida, never made it into law.

According to the Beacon, Klein has raised between $200,000 and $500,000 in campaign funds for Obama’s reelection, despite the Senate Office of Public Records showing that he registered as a lobbyist for Spirit Airlines on Jan. 2 of this year.

Conflicting stories have emerged in the wake of the news. Klein, who is employed by law firm and lobbying shop Holland & Knight LLP, reportedly told MSNBC that his registration was the result of a “clerical error” at the firm and that he intends to immediately de-register and continue bundling donations for the Obama campaign.

The campaign, meanwhile, had told Politico that Klein is “no longer associated with the campaign” and that he “stopped raising money for the campaign” the minute he became a lobbyist.

For those who don’t recall, Klein came to Congress as part of the Democratic wave election of 2006, when he defeated long-time South Florida Republican Rep. Clay Shaw.

In early 2007, he and fellow freshman Florida Rep. Tim Mahoney (who had won the seat vacated by disgraced Republican Rep. Mark Foley) were handpicked by then-House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., to carry the Democrats’ natural catastrophe backstop legislation, based on proposals previously floated by Republicans like Rick Lazio, Bill McCollum and Ginny Brown-Waite. The idea was to shore up the freshmen’s support, both in fundraising and at the ballot box, by giving them responsibility for a high-profile piece of legislation that was expected to be popular back home.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Mahoney was swept out of office in 2008. Klein managed to successfully win reelection once,  and subsequently reintroduced the so-called “Homeowners Defense Act” again in 2009 as the lead sponsor. But Florida voters showed him the door one year later, when he was defeated by Rep. Allen West.

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