By ED FINKELSTEIN
Jefferson City – The Missouri Democratic Party reports that the latest beltway special interest group coming to help Senator Roy Blunt’s struggling campaign with new ads has an interesting twist: the lobbyist behind the ads is a former Blunt top staffer who is riddled with conflicts of interest who still advises and fundraises for the Senator.
A new ad campaign twisting Blunt’s Democratic opponent Jason Kander’s record is being aired, and paid for, by a secret money funded Republican Super PAC, Heartland Resurgence. The PAC is founded by Washington lobbyist Gregg Hartley. Hartley’s relationship with Senator Blunt goes back more than 40 years to Senator Blunt’s first political office as a county clerk, and was described in the Washington Post as Senator Blunt’s “alter ego.”
Hartley served as then-Congressman Blunt’s chief of staff, where he solidified Blunt’s relationships with the DC lobbying community before becoming a corporate lobbyist himself. Hartley left his role on Capitol Hill to lobby for Cassidy & Associates, where many of his first clients were major donors to Blunt’s campaigns. He now runs his own lobbying firm, Cloakroom Advisors, LLC.
SPEAKS ON BLUNT’S BEHALF
However, even after leaving Senator Blunt’s office, Hartley continued to advise, fundraise, and even speak on behalf of Senator Blunt to the press.
Despite rules designed to prevent coordination between Super PACs and campaigns, Hartley has also continued to actively raise money for Senator Blunt’s campaigns, having been scheduled to host a campaign fundraiser in Washington as recently as this past April.
Hartley’s also been at the center of many of the conflicts and scandals that have followed Senator Blunt’s career.
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch report noted that Hartley allegedly demanded a $12,500 campaign contribution during Blunt’s failed 1992 gubernatorial run from two businessmen who had received a loan from the bank where Senator Blunt’s brother worked.
Hartley’s close ties to Senator Blunt have continued to pay off handsomely after leaving Capitol Hill, as he counts many of Senator Blunt’s donors as clients.
After speaking to the group Students in Free Enterprise in 2004, Senator Blunt recommended that they hire a lobbyist to secure grant funding. The group gave Hartley an $80,000 contract who helped them receive roughly $1 million in government grants.