During his career as a state legislator and in his 2004 U.S. Senate run, Obama didn't bar lobbyists from contributing to his campaign as he does now and was personal friends with some. But interviews with Illinois sources and an examination of his voting record by the newspaper showed Obama often voted against the lobbyists' interests, USA Today said.
While serving for eight years as a state legislator in Springfield, Ill., Obama played golf and basketball with lobbyists and didn't shy from accepting campaign donations, the newspaper said, but was careful to pay his own way during meals with them.
"I think that he understood that lobbyists had valuable information and are a part of the system," Illinois lobbyist Paul Williams told USA Today. "But he doesn't necessarily want to be tied to or indebted to their financial support, which might have an influence on his decision-making process."
Obama told the newspaper in an last month that his self-imposed ban on lobbyist and PAC donations meant there were "fewer strings attached to me."