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Lobbyist on, then off, Obama fundraiser invite

January 29, 2008 |  9:08 am

As he campaigns against evil Washington insiders, Sen. Barack Obama regularly points out that he shuns all money from “currently registered federal lobbyists.” Or so he says on all his fundraising invitations, including the one for his event at Avalon in Hollywood set for Thursday night.

Hey, as long as you're in the Golden State debating, why not pick up some change?

But the policy is one that has complicated Obama's life, from time to...

time, as The Times and its financial fundraising expert Dan Morain have pointed out. And evidently, once again, that policy is causing a bit of a problem.

The invitation for Obama’s fundraiser includes 50 co-hosts, each of whom has raised at least $25,000 for the Illinois senator's presidential campaign. One of the listed co-hosts is Daron Watts, attorney at the firm Sidley Austin.

According to Sidley’s website, Watts is “head of the West Coast Food and Drug Practice group. He maintains an active, multidimensional litigation, regulatory and public policy practice that focuses on FDA-regulated industries from both the West Coast and Washington, D.C.”

And Watts has registered with the U.S. Senate as a lobbyist. His clients include the food service firm Aramark, on matters related to school lunches and breakfasts. He also represents Sepracor, a drug company that manufactures such products as the heavily advertised Lunesta, on matters related to Medicare reimbursement.

Watts declined to discuss the matter.

The Obama campaign was contacted about the Watts involvement. An aide responded a few hours later by saying that Watts was being removed from the invitation and would not be raising money for the Democratic presidential candidate.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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