First question out of the gate during a conference call announcing Jim Hodges’ endorsement of Barack Obama came from Associated Press reporter Jim Davenport on the former governor’s current work leading a lobbying firm in Columbia.

Sure enough, the issue topped Davenport’s story:

“It deals with federal home loan banks, so it’s not exactly one of those that’s been controversial,” Hodges told The Associated Press after making his endorsement. “It’s a program to try to get more liquidity to community banks.”

The Center for Responsive Politics shows Hodges Consulting Group is registered to lobby for Hillenbrand Partners, a Chicago-based company that does business with the Federal Home Loan Bank in Atlanta.

Hodges’ lobbying partners include Billy Boan, a Republican and his former chief of staff. Boan’s clients include the South Carolina Trial Lawyers Association.

Obama has tried to reduce the influence of lobbyists during his political career, campaign manager David Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters. But there’s nothing wrong with lobbyists helping the campaign with endorsements, he said.

“Obviously we have restrictions on contributions from federally registered lobbyists. We do have folks who might be involved at the state level who are supporting us,” Plouffe said. “There’s no prohibition on people who are federally registered lobbyists supporting us they just can’t – you know, from a voting perspective or an advice perspective – they can’t contribute to us.”

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