Astellas employed two lobbyists with the Chicago firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman, Senate records show. Another Katten lawyer had helped the senator set up a blind trust in 2005, campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
The two lobbyists have not contributed to Obama. But their law partners and associates at Katten gave $77,000 to his campaigns since 1999, according to the non-partisan CQ Moneyline.
Mark Zolno, a Katten partner who represents Astellas, said in a statement that the tariff suspension was a routine matter that arose long before Obama decided to run for president. "Katten's individual attorneys are free to contribute to political campaigns of their choosing," the statement says.
Clinton's 2002 tomato legislation stemmed from a court decision that sided with food importers who successfully sued the government, arguing their products had been improperly taxed, Michael Rienzi said. He said that he became a Clinton contributor because he admired how she handled herself during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and that his contributions were unrelated to the tariff bill.
He said he never discussed the proposed tax relief with Clinton, leaving that task to his lobbyists, from the firm of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt. Members of that firm have contributed $58,200 to Sen. Clinton since 2001, records show.
"We won this in court. The judge decided that the government was wrong," Rienzi said. "Customs didn't want to listen. That's why the bill."