Mitt Romney occasionally touts himself as a Washington outsider, but he hangs out with an awful lot of lobbyists, the New York Times observes. Romney's "kitchen cabinet" includes some of the top Republican influence peddlers in the business, including Charles Black, Wayne Berman, and Vin Weber, all of whom run lobbying firms. In addition, 294 registered lobbyists have donated at least $401,000 to Romney's cause, and other bundlers representing business interests have brought in another $2 million.
Other lobbyists have headed up Romney policy teams, and Romney's positions often happen to coincide with the interests of these advisers' clients. One lobbyist who helped work on Romney's coal-friendly energy platform, for example, helps represent one of the country's largest coal producers. Romney isn't alone, however; other GOP candidates have lobbyist advisers, too. "If you want to go someplace to find expertise, it’s probably going to be in Washington," says one Romney foreign policy adviser, who lobbies for Pakistan. "That's why candidates look to us—some a little less, some a little bit more."