Dellums a Democratic sellout? Not really.

There’s no denying Ron Dellums ended his Oakland mayoral term last year under a cloud, his long legislative legacy having lost some of its luster, but new criticism that he has “sold his soul” by working for a former GOP congressman’s company seems like a stretch.

KTVU reported that Dellums, 75, a lifelong Democrat and a liberal lion during his decades in the House, has gone to work for Watts Partners, a lobbying and consulting firm co-founded and chaired by former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla.

“It feels that he’s betrayed the party. He’s betrayed the public. He’s betrayed his ideals,” KTVU quoted Democratic activist and former Oakland City Council candidate Nancy Sidebotham as saying. “The bottom line with the economy the way it is today you’ve got to look for where the dollars going to come in and he’s hurting for money and that’s why he sold his soul.”

But while Watts and Elroy Sailor, the firm’s co-founder and CEO clearly are Republicans – Sailor worked for Republicans including Michigan Gov. John Engler and U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich. – there were Democrats on the firm’s senior staff long before Dellums joined up, bolstering the firm’s home page’s boast of “over 100 years of bipartisan experience.”

For example, managing partner Steve Pruitt previously worked as a senior aide and committee staff director for House Budget Committee Chairman and Majority Whip William Gray III, D-Pa. Senior advisor Tammy Boyd worked for Democrats including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. And senior associate Jaimon Jackson formerly worked for Democrats including Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Md., and Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening.

Considering that Dellums went stumping for President Obama in 2008 (albeit only after having endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primary), hiring him seems like a strategically sound choice for further beefing up Watts’ firm’s Democratic connections.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Why does it seem to me on reading this blog that liberal icons like Dellums and Miller can do no wrong?

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Mayor Ron was such a hit in Oakland I’m sure he will be a smashing success in his new gig. Btw, who gives a rat’s rear what “activist” Sidebotham says?

  • John W

    Sounds like a real cutting edge, powerhouse consulting outfit! What a bunch of has beens! I remember seeing J.C. Watts on a late night infomercial a few years ago, pitching a service to help you make money by getting government grants. There was some other former conservative Republican doing the same thing, but I can’t recall the name. All pretty pathetic.

  • Josh Richman

    Re #1: Elwood, I’d guess it probably seems that way to you because it appears – based on your commenting history – you believe anything any liberal ever does or says is automatically wrong, no matter the circumstances.

  • Elwood

    @ #4

    How can you tell what a liberal is saying is wrong?

    His lips are moving.

  • John W

    Re: #5

    By today’s Teapublican standards, Eisenhower would qualify as a liberal.

  • Rick K.

    Why are people so surprised about Dellums being a sell-out? That guy cost taxpayers lots of money when he resigned mid-term in early 1998 and literally handed his seat over to his protege Barbara Lee. Special elections had to be held as the game of “musical chairs” ensued (Perata to Senate to take Lee’s place, Audie Bock to Assembly to take Perata’s place). As I recall, Dellums resigned mid-term to become a lobbyist. Like the sainted Congressman Norman Mineta (who also left Congress mid-term to go into “governmental relations” or whatever at Lockheed Corporation), Dellums is a “quitter”.