CHECKING THEIR LISTS
While the list of donors made public by the William J. Clinton Foundation to speed along the potential nomination of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for Secretary of State, makes for interesting reading, more interesting are the back channel communications between senior Barack Obama advisers and the Clintons.
"They want our fundraising lists and other materials," says a longtime Bill Clinton aide. "They want to use it for the Obama-Biden Transition Project, so I guess it's going to be a long transition."
The Obama-Biden Transition Project, is, in fact, a 501(c)(4) tax exempt organization, which Obama advisers say will maintain a full staff and fundraising capabilities after Obama takes office. Similar to other tax exempt organizations, it can receive funds from corporations, foreign governments, and foreign citizens. The Clinton foundation has collected almost $50 million from foreign governments, and millions more from other foreign entities and individuals.
The "Transition Project" has been shrouded in mystery, as much of the transition work has been undertaken by the official Obama transition operation, which is largely funded by tax dollars through the Government Services Administration.
Several sources inside the Obama transition team have said that current "Transition Project" employees have been vetting and maintaining contact with future employees of cabinet-level departments and regulatory agencies, with the goal of moving those "Project" employees back to the private sector as lobbyists and public affairs professionals.
"It's about building the next big donor pool in Washington to support our causes," says an Obama aide positing the purpose behind the entity.
Another aide believes that the funds collected by the "Project" will be used for quasi-political, issues-oriented work. "This is the kind of operation that can be effective, given the data we collected during the campaign, to focus grassroots support for our policies, do advertising, that kind of thing."
Regardless of the goals, it now appears that Obama not only has the Clintons in his corner, he has their lists, which may be far more valuable in the longterm.
Rep. Connie Mack has told friends in Florida that he is interested in filling Sen. Mel Martinez's Senate seat upon his retirement in 2010, but won't commit until former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has made a decision on what he will do.
Martinez has already said that he will not leave the Senate early, though many Republicans would prefer that he do just that. "Given that we have a Republican governor who can make the appointment, and we can give that appointee maybe eighteen months to hit the ground running, we'd be stupid not to do just that," says one Senate leadership aide. "But [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell hasn't raised the issue yet."