Washington Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Slattery released a description of his past lobbying activities on Thursday, hoping to quiet GOP critics who say he's too closely connected to special interests.
The former congressman from Topeka says he's providing the information in the interest of openness and accountability.
"Voters deserve an explanation of the work I've done since I left public office," Slattery said. "I'm pleased to provide this information."
The list contains brief summaries of the work Slattery did for 40 companies and associations - ranging from Kansas City-based utility Aquila Inc. to paper and lumber giant Weyerhaeuser Co. - during his 14-year stint as a lawyer at Wiley Rein, a major Washington law firm. Slattery began working at the firm when he left Congress in 1995, a few months after losing the Kansas governor's race.
Slattery is seeking the right to challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, who is seeking a third term. Roberts' campaign has made Slattery's work as a lobbyist a key point of attack in early radio ads.
Recent scandals have given lobbyists a less than stellar reputation and both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have sought to distance their presidential campaigns from the perception of undue influence by lobbyists. Obama's campaign does not accept donations from Washington lobbyists and McCain has banned registered lobbyists from working on his campaign.
"We want to move beyond this," Slattery campaign spokeswoman Abbie Hodgson said. "We don't want this election to be about Jim's lobbying."
Steve Carpinelli, a spokesman for the government watchdog group Center for Public Integrity, said most of the descriptions of Slattery's work are broadly worded and provide little new information beyond what the public has access to through the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records. The list also does not indicate how much the companies paid for his work.
For example, a description for client Marley Cooling Technologies says Slattery worked "to market technology designed to help power plants conserve large amounts of water." That doesn't include the fact that Slattery helped the company, which has offices in Kansas City, win a $600,000 grant from the Department of Energy to install its new technology in a power plant.
The description for NTP Inc. (Blackberry) says Slattery "kept members of Congress informed about the ongoing NTP Inc. litigation related to blackberry technology." It leaves out the fact that Slattery was urging lawmakers not to intervene in the case. Slattery's firm later received a huge settlement in the case.
Hodgson said the summaries are meant to give people an idea of the type of work Slattery did and the scope of that work.
"If there are further questions about any particular client or any particular business that he did, we're more than happy to answer that," Hodgson said.
Roberts campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Mank suggested the list is incomplete because it does not include every client Slattery's firm ever represented.
"As a partner in Wiley Rein, Slattery has profited from every lobbying client the firm has represented, well over one hundred," Mank said. "Kansans have a clear choice between Pat Roberts who is always working for Kansas and Jim Slattery who stopped working for Kansas years ago to enrich himself by lobbying for special interests."