Aug. 24, 2008 -- The son of Barack Obama's vice presidential pick, Sen. Joe Biden, is a top partner at a Washington law firm that has lobbied his father's office, a family tie that could prove embarrassing for a campaign that has positioned itself as fighting lobbyists and special interests in Washington.
In the first six months of this year R. Hunter Biden, a founding partner of Oldaker, Biden & Belair, has worked on accounts that brought it $470,000 from nine clients, according to lobbying disclosure records.
Although firm members say Biden, 38, does not lobby his father, this kind of family tie, said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, "raises the potential of a conflict of interest."
For its part, the Obama campaign said that Sen. Biden had always followed ethics rules. "Hunter Biden has never lobbied Sen. Biden's office or committees, period," David Wade, Obama-Biden spokesperson, wrote in an email response.
"He's never worked on a client issue where other members of the firm have lobbied the office. Hunter shares expenses not revenues with his partners, so there's no benefit to him when a partner lobbies. Sen. Biden has been as strong a supporter of ethics reform as the Senate has known, and his office follows all ethics laws right down to the letter."
But the connections between the law firm and Biden are very close.
For instance, William Oldaker, another named partner and former general counsel at the Federal Election Commission, has been Sen. Biden's campaign treasurer for Congress.
Oldaker has advised Biden on campaign issues, first during the Senator's failed 1988 presidential bid. And while Oldaker has said he does not lobby Biden personally, he has spoken with Biden's staff about some clients.