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Obama half right on lobbyist help on GOP's 'Pledge'

The statement

The Republican election platform "was actually written with the help of a former lobbyist for AIG and a former lobbyist for Exxon Mobil."

President Barack Obama, Tuesday in Madison, Wis.

The ruling

President Barack Obama told a crowd at the University of Wisconsin at Madison that they should vote for Democrats this fall, or Republicans would stall his agenda.

"Just look at the agenda that the leaders of the other party unveiled last week. They call this 'Pledge to America.' That's what they called it. And in case you're wondering how serious they are about changing Washington, this pledge was actually written with the help of a former lobbyist for AIG and a former lobbyist for Exxon Mobil," Obama said.

We wanted to fact-check Obama's claim that lobbyists had helped write "A Pledge to America." The document, created by the House Republican leadership, mixes broad principles and specific proposals, such as "stop all job-killing tax hikes."

When Obama said the pledge was "written with the help of a former lobbyist for AIG and a former lobbyist for Exxon Mobil," we thought he meant lobbyists, plural. But he was talking about one person who lobbied for two corporations, the White House said. That person is Brian Wild, a GOP staff member.

How does Obama know Wild helped write the document? That came from a report by the Huffington Post. Wild is listed as the document owner on an electronic draft of the report. Wild is a former lobbyist. Public filings show Wild was listed as a lobbyist for the insurance giant AIG and for Exxon Mobil Corp.

A Republican spokesman didn't dispute that the digital signature on the document was Wild's or that he worked on the document. But GOP members wrote the document, and Wild simply coordinated the project, said Brendan Buck, communications director for the "Pledge to America" project.

Obama said the pledge "was actually written with the help of a former lobbyist for AIG and a former lobbyist for Exxon Mobil." We think the reasonable interpretation is that two former lobbyists worked on it, but that's not the case. We've only found one former lobbyist who worked for AIG and Exxon Mobil.

Next, Obama said the pledge was written "with the help of" a former lobbyist. What does "help" mean? We don't know how much he contributed.

So one former lobbyist, not two, helped write with the document. We rate Obama's statement Half True.

Edited for print. For more, go to


Obama half right on lobbyist help on GOP's 'Pledge' 10/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:08pm]
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