Biden's son a registered lobbyist since 2001

As it stands now, Sen. Joe Biden's younger son, Hunter Biden, wouldn't be allowed to contribute money to his father's vice presidential effort.

That's because Barack Obama's campaign has a policy of not accepting donations from federal lobbyists, and Hunter Biden, 38, is one. He has been a registered lobbyist since 2001, and these days he represents nine clients, including five universities and two biotechnology firms, Senate records show.

The law firm he co-founded, Oldaker Biden & Belair, was paid $1.8 million to lobby Congress in the first half of this year, according to public records compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. Biden's clients paid the firm $470,000, the records show.

David Wade, spokesman for the Obama-Biden campaign, said in an e-mail that Hunter Biden never lobbies his father. Hunter Biden does not share in fees from clients on whose behalf Sen. Biden has been lobbied by other firm partners and employees, Wade said.

It is not illegal or unusual for a member of Congress to have a relative in the lobbying profession. At least 24 House members and 31 senators have spouses, children or other relatives who are registered as lobbyists, according to research by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal watchdog group.

With the selection of his father as Obama's running mate, Hunter Biden's role stands out because Obama is campaigning on a platform of reducing the influence of lobbyists and special interests.

In 2006, Hunter Biden severed ties with a lobbying-only subsidiary of his law firm called The National Group, Wade said. That was done to comply with upcoming ethics rules requiring members of Congress to certify that their relatives do not immediately benefit from spending or tax provisions they recommend, Wade said.

Sen. Biden voted for the 2007 ethics law, which requires senators to prohibit their staff from having contact with the senator's immediate family members who are lobbyists.

The National Group was paid $1.7 million during the first half of this year to lobby for clients that include the University of Delaware, which has reaped federal money through congressional spending requests sponsored by Biden. In the fiscal year that ended in September 2007, the most recent period for which data are available, the university won three budget "earmarks" co-sponsored by Biden worth $5 million, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a non-partisan watchdog group.

The Oldaker Biden & Belair firm separately has been paid $208,000 for legal services by Biden's two campaign funds since 2005, according to election records compiled by CQMoneyline.

The firm's head, William Oldaker, is a longtime Biden supporter who helped launch Biden's political action committee, federal election records show.