K Street execs open wallets to 2020 Dems

K Street execs open wallets to 2020 Dems
© Greg Nash

K Street executives are opening their wallets to 2020 Democrats, according to 2019 first-quarter filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Democratic presidential contenders face a tough decision on whether to accept money from lobbyists and others in the influence world amid pressure from progressive groups to decline those donations. The corridors of K Street, though, are stocked with Democratic donors, often former staffers with long-lasting ties to candidates, who are offering their support early in the race.


Some of these notable donors are working in government relations, consulting or public affairs spaces in D.C., and alongside lobbyists at their firms, but are not registered lobbyists themselves.

Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Poll shows tight general election battle between Trump and top Democrats MORE, the South Bend, Ind., mayor who is rising in the polls, received $250 from prominent K Street Democrat Steven Elmendorf, founder and partner at Subject Matter and onetime chief of staff to former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.).

Buttigieg also received $500 from former Obama deputy campaign manager and Precision firm co-founder Stephanie Cutter and $1,025 from David Barnhart, a consultant with Locust Street Group and the Iowa caucus director for former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Sekulow vows Bidens, Ukraine will be part of Trump impeachment defense Elizabeth Warren: More 'Hillary' than Hillary MORE's 2008 presidential run.

Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address Biden calls for revoking key online legal protection Trump mocks Booker over suspended presidential campaign MORE (D-Texas) was seen as an early favorite among aides to former President Obama, but the 2020 candidate has said he will not take campaign contributions from lobbyists. That allowed opponents like Buttigieg to take in donations from former Obama aides working on K Street.

Among the prominent K Street donations to Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris on 2020 endorsement: 'I am not thinking about it right now' Panel: Is Kamala Harris a hypocrite for mulling a Joe Biden endorsement? The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE (D-Calif.) were $2,700 from Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney with Holland & Knight and onetime staff director for the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, and $575 from Angela Freyre of Squire Patton Boggs, who worked as an adviser in the Obama White House on Cuba policy. Neither are registered lobbyists.

Edie Fraser, a former bundler for Clinton and the founder of STEMconnector/Million Women Mentors, gave to three female senators running for the 2020 nomination: $1,500 to Harris, $500 to Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandGOP-Biden feud looms over impeachment trial Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (D-N.Y.) and $1,000 to Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa MORE (D-Minn.).

For many candidates, those with home state connections, colleagues and former staffers can be an important source of contributions.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBlack caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' MORE’s (D-N.J.) former chief of staff, Modia Butler, now a partner at Mercury Public Affairs but not a lobbyist, donated $3,172.28 to his campaign. Bryan Lanza, a former Trump campaign staffer, is managing director at Mercury.

Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeBloomberg, Steyer focus on climate change in effort to stand out Our government and public institutions must protect us against the unvaccinated Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE's (D-Wash.) campaign received donations from a former House colleague, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), now a senior policy adviser at VanNess Feldman and also not a registered lobbyist, who gave $2,500. In 2018, Dicks lobbied for General Dynamics and Washington state companies Boeing and Kitsap Transit.

Inslee also received contributions from a number of former staffers, including $2,800 from Nick Shipley, a vice president at PhRMA. Shipley was a former legislative director for Inslee in the House.

Tracy Tolk, a government relations professional at VanNess Feldman, who worked for Inslee for over seven years as a senior policy adviser and senior legislative assistant, donated $2,800. And Inslee’s former legislative counsel, Jared Weaver, now vice president at the Alpine Group, donated $500.

Gillibrand's campaign also received donations from ex-congressional staffers, including her former aide, Valerie Delp, an associate at Alston & Bird LLP. Delp, who gave $1,000, was a legislative correspondent and worked on Gillibrand's Senate campaigns.

Gillibrand also received donations from former staffers of some 2020 rivals, including contributions from Sarah Morgenthau, a one-time scheduler for Booker and a member of the National Finance Committee for Obama's 2008 run, as well as Crystal Patterson, a former communications director to Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanOffice of Technology Assessment: It's time for a second coming Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far GM among partners planning .3B battery plant in Ohio MORE (D-Ohio). Patterson is now the global civic partnership manager at Facebook. 

Ryan announced his candidacy after March 31, the first quarter fundraising deadline.

Among other notables donating to Gillibrand are Boies Schiller attorney William Isaacson, who donated $2,700 to her campaign, and Pia Carusone, former chief of staff to ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and now a political consultant, who gave $1,000.

Gillibrand also received a donation from Sara van Geertruyden, a partner at Thorn Run Partners, who previously worked on the Hill for ex-Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and at Patton Boggs. She donated $2,800 and her husband, Goulston & Storrs PC attorney Yann H.H. van Geertruyden, donated $2,700.

Another candidate, former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperFor a healthy aging workforce policy, look to Colorado Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate Hickenlooper raised .8 million for Colorado Senate bid in fourth quarter of 2019 MORE (D-Colo.), received $1,000 from former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, now a partner at WilmerHale's Denver office. Salazar is a former senator and state attorney general from Colorado. Hickenlooper also received $2,800 from Steven Kaufmann, an attorney with Morrison & Foerster who was chief of staff of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a federal aid agency. 

Other former Obama officials who gave this quarter included Mickey Kantor, a former U.S. trade representative under President Clinton and now partner at Mayer Brown, who gave $1,000 to Klobuchar.

This story was updated at 11:19 p.m.