Has the Obama White House stolen a few pages from the Clintons’ well-worn campaign fundraising playbook?
According to last week’s New York Times, recent secret meetings with Wall Street executives inside the Obama White House are more than raising eyebrows:
A few weeks before announcing his re-election campaign, President Obama convened two dozen Wall Street executives, many of them longtime donors, in the White House’s Blue Room….
The event, organized by the Democratic National Committee, kicked off an aggressive push by Mr. Obama to win back the allegiance of one of his most vital sources of campaign cash — in part by trying to convince Wall Street that his policies, far from undercutting the investor class, have helped bring banks and financial markets back to health.
Of course the Obama White House response was predictable: “Nothing to see here.” Politico reported White House Press spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One, “What needs to be made clear is, contrary to suggestions otherwise, this was not a fundraiser.”
Really? Nothing wrong with the meeting? Then why was there no mention of it on the President’s public schedule?
“I’m not aware — I don’t remember. I actually wasn’t in this position,” Carney said defensively. (Actually, Politico notes Carney was in his position when the meetings took place. Carney came on board on February 16. The meetings were held on March 7.)
The parallels between the Obama Wall Street hustle and the Clintons’ infamous coffee klatches are way too obvious to ignore (even for the liberal press which has noted the similarities).
The Clinton White House was notorious for illegally using the White House facilities for political fundraising, from pimping out the Lincoln bedroom, to Al Gore’s calls to the Buddhist Monks, to the Clinton White House coffee meetings.
The Clinton’s held more than 90 White House coffees for about 1,000 major contributors back in 1995 and 1996, as just one component of their massive and corrupt campaign fundraising operation. Some Democratic fundraisers explicitly sold invitations for $50,000 to $100,000 to the coffees with the president, vice president and their respective wives. You can see Hillary Clinton’s involvement in these illegal coffees nicely documented in her own calendars here.
Former Judicial Watch client and former Clinton fundraiser Johnny Chung personally forked over a $50,000 check to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s Chief of Staff right on White House grounds. Of course, federal law prohibits fundraising activities on government property. But that didn’t stop the Clintons. (It never did.) Chung, incidentally, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and admitted that much of his largesse actually came from a Chinese military operative.
Now his cheerleading section in the press is quick to defend the president, saying that it is not yet known whether or not these Wall Street execs were expressly pumped for cash. But let’s be real about this. The president, through the DNC, didn’t invite his Wall Street friends over to the White House because he sincerely wanted their advice on the economy. No, the meetings and the president’s follow-up phone calls to those who could not attend had one purpose: To make his fundraising pitch. Even the liberal New York Times sees that.
If I’ve learned one thing about how Washington politicians operate, it is this: When politicians operate in secret, their intentions are less than upstanding. There is a reason why this meeting was conveniently “left off” Obama’s public schedule.
Of course, the Obama administration could erase all doubts about its intentions simply by keeping its promises on transparency. But this would require a major change in attitude and policy. Despite its protestations to the contrary, this administration remains secretive and hostile to the open records process, especially as it relates to the White House visitor logs. (See my recent congressional testimony on this point here.)
When he last ran for office, Barack Obama promised to rid the White House of special interests and lobbyists. Now he’s inviting them over for secret visits while withholding key records on who visits the White House and for what purpose.
But whatever details regarding these White House Wall Street meetings that remain obscured, this much we do know. Obama’s top fundraisers are rewarded with some pretty sweet jobs.
Again according to Politico:
More than two years after Obama took office vowing to banish “special interests” from his administration, nearly 200 of his biggest donors have landed plum government jobs and advisory posts, won federal contracts worth millions of dollars for their business interests or attended numerous elite White House meetings and social events, an investigation by iWatch News has found.
Carney’s response? The individuals hired by the Obama White House were highly qualified and just “happened to be donors.” Politico, highlighting reporting done by the Center for Public Integrity, reported that “80 percent of ‘bundlers’ who raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s campaign were given key administration posts.” That’s a pretty high rate of coincidence, wouldn’t you say?
Judicial Watch will not let these Chicago-style scandals sit and you can expect action on this from your watchdog in Washington in the coming weeks.