Like father, like daughter — one bundler begets another

The New York Times’s lead story, posted on its website Thursday night, " 'Bundlers’ for Obama Have Active Ties to Lobbying,' " makes the important point that “Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his reelection bid.” Eric Lichtblau reports that “at least 15” of Obama’s bundlers, while not registered as lobbyists, seem to perform very much like lobbyists, sometimes working for consulting firms, sometimes for private companies. The loophole-ridden rules on lobbying allow them to avoid registration, he writes, and also to raise money for the president, host fundraisers and even push policies at White House meetings.

First up among Lichtblau’s examples is Sally Susman, executive VP, policy, external affairs and communications at Pfizer Inc., who has bundled more than $500,000 for Obama’s reelection and, writes Lichtblau, “helped organize a $35,800-a-ticket dinner that Mr. Obama attended in Manhattan in June. At the same time, she leads Pfizer’s powerful lobbying shop, and she has visited the White House four times since 2009."

Lichtblau does not mention that Sally Susman, 50, is the daughter of retired investment banker-turned-Ambassador to the United Kingdom Louis Susman, who raised more than half a million dollars for Obama’s election in 2008. Susman Sr. was so good, over many decades, at sucking up money for politicians that he was nicknamed the Vacuum Cleaner or the Hoover. Obama rewarded him in 2009 with the plum appointment of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James’s.

Should Ambassador Susman, who will turn 75 shortly after the 2012 election, return home to Chicago, and should Obama be reelected, perhaps Sally Susman’s prowess as a bundler could put her in the position to take her father’s place. If nothing else, the accommodations are lovely — the 35-room Winfield House in Regent’s Park boasts a private garden second in size to the one at Buckingham Palace.