HIGHTOWER: Clinton's Money: Howling With Wolves

Four years ago, Bill Clinton was running for president against what he called "high-priced lobbyists and Washington influence peddlers," he denounced the fact that our political system is "being held hostage by big-money interests."Four years later that same guy is running for president again -- but this time, he's running with the lobbyists and Washington influence peddlers, apparently quite content to be held hostage by big-money interests.As the saying goes, "If you run with wolves, you soon learn to howl," and Bill Clinton has been running closely with the wolves of Wall Street throughout his presidency, delivering NAFTA and GATT for them, handing them the telecommunications-giveaway bill, opening up more of our national forests to clear-cutting by timber companies, keeping our wages low to satisfy the bond marketers, opening-up the U.S. consumer market to more cheap and blood-stained imports from China -- and, well, generally dancing with wolves.In return, the wolves celebrated Clinton early this month at a two-day fundraising frenzy in Washington. The lobbyists and special interests he once denounced helped raise a record $12.3 million for Clinton and his Party. Indeed, the kick-off dinner for the frenzy was held at the posh den of James Free, lobbyist for RJ Reynolds Tobacco. He was just one of dozens of lobbyists who paid up to $250,000 apiece and were named "trustees" of the Democratic Party. Another Washington lobbyist, Peter Knight, not only was chair of the big fundraising gala, but he will soon become the campaign manager of Bill Clinton's re-election bid.What a difference four years make, huh?Both parties are now owned by Wall Street, and change will only come if we outsiders howl louder than the wolves. To break big money's control of our politics, contact Center for Responsive Politics: 202/857-0044.

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