The more we learn the more we realize that Obama is a typical politician, although better than most. He will win in November. But many of his supporters will be disappointed. He is not the saviour many believe.
On Wednesday nights during Illinois General Assembly sessions, a group of lobbyists and lawmakers used to gather at the headquarters of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association for a weekly poker game. Barack Obama, who represented part of Chicago as state senator from 1997-2004, was a regular.
These days, Obama says lobbyists are part of the problem with Washington, and he refuses to accept their fundraising help. But during his eight years in Springfield, Ill., Obama played golf and basketball with them and hit them up for campaign donations, according to records and interviews. He shared meals with them, though he was careful to pay his own way, they say.
Obama also accepted lobbyist money when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, and he later used his influence to help secure grants for 16 Illinois-based institutions represented by six of his lobbyist contributors, public records show.
He did all that while retaining a reputation for independence. "I can't remember a time that state senator Obama wasn't on the side of the consumers," said David Kolata, executive director of the non-partisan Illinois Citizens Utility Board.
A look at Obama's past relationships with lobbyists shows that, for most of his political career, Obama wasn't as attentive to the appearance of coziness with special interests as he is now. But it also shows that he often voted against the interests of his lobbyist friends, and he helped pass two significant upgrades to Illinois campaign finance and ethics laws.