Here's a freaking shock!
The AP reports via Yahoo! news:
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's push for a national health care overhaul is providing a financial windfall in the election offseason to Democratic consulting firms that are closely connected to the president and two top advisers.
Coalitions of interest groups running at least $24 million in pro-overhaul ads hired GMMB, which worked for Obama's 2008 campaign and whose partners include a top Obama campaign strategist. They also hired AKPD Message and Media, which was founded by David Axelrod, a top adviser to Obama's campaign and now to the White House. AKPD did work for Obama's campaign, and Axelrod's son Michael and Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe work there.
The firms were hired by Americans for Stable Quality Care and its predecessor, Healthy Economy Now. Each was formed by a coalition of interests with big stakes in health care policy, including the drug maker lobby PhRMA, the American Medical Association, the Service Employees International Union and Families USA, which calls itself "The Voice for Health Care Consumers."
Their ads press for changes in health care policy. Healthy Economy Now made one of the same arguments that Obama does: that health care costs are delaying the country's economic recovery and that changes are needed if the economy is to rebound.
There is no evidence that Axelrod directly profited from the group's ads. Axelrod took steps to separate himself from AKPD when he joined Obama's White House. AKPD owes him $2 million from his stock sale and will make preset payments over four years, starting with $350,000 on Dec. 31, according to Axelrod's personal financial disclosure report.
A larger issue is a network of relationships and overlapping interests that resembles some seen in past administrations and could prove a problem as Obama tries to win the public over on health care and fulfill his promise to change the way Washington works, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a government watchdog group.
"Even if these are obvious bedfellows and kind of standard PR maneuvers, it still stands to undercut Obama's credibility," Krumholz said. "The potential takeaway from the public is 'friends in cahoots to engineer a grass roots result.'"