President Barack Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina sent out an official reelection campaign video wherein he said talk of Mr. Obama having a billion dollar campaign war chest is “bullsh*t” because “we don’t take PAC money unlike our opponents. We fund this campaign in contributions of $3 or $5 or whatever you can do to help us.
Mr. Messina’s plea for Obama supporters to chip in “$3 or $5” leaves the impression of a presidential campaign divorced from big money donors. Furthermore, the claim that Mr. Obama will not accept PAC money leaves the impression that his fundraising efforts are removed from the influence of lobbyists or Wall Street. Nothing could be further from the truth.
From the New York Times:
Despite a pledge not to take money from lobbyists, President Obama has relied on prominent supporters who are active in the lobbying industry to raise millions of dollars for his re-election bid.At least 15 of Mr. Obama’s “bundlers” — supporters who contribute their own money to his campaign and solicit it from others — are involved in lobbying for Washington consulting shops or private companies. They have raised more than $5 million so far for the campaign.
Because the bundlers are not registered as lobbyists with the Senate, the Obama campaign has managed to avoid running afoul of its self-imposed ban on taking money from lobbyists.
But registered or not, the bundlers are in many ways indistinguishable from people who fit the technical definition of a lobbyist. They glide easily through the corridors of power in Washington, with a number of them hosting Mr. Obama at fund-raisers while also visiting the White House on policy matters and official business.
As both a candidate and as president, Mr. Obama has vowed to curb what he calls the corrupting influence of lobbyists, barring them not only from contributing to his campaign but also from holding jobs in his administration. While lobbyists grouse about the rules, ethics watchdogs credit the changes with raising ethical standards in Washington.
But the prevalence of major Obama fund-raisers who also work in the lobbying arena threatens to undercut the president’s ethics push, raising questions about whether the campaign’s policies square with its on-the-ground practices, some of those same watchdogs say.
As for Mr. Obama’s popularity with Wall Street donors, contrary to his Occupy Wall Street rhetoric, the president has received more campaign contributions from Wall Street than all Republican candidates combined.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough says Team Obama’s rhetoric versus their fundraising reality is nothing less than audacious.
Obama seems capable of effortlessly floating between demonizing Wall Street gambling one day and profiting from it the next. The audacity is breathtaking.
The president has raised more money from Wall Street through the Democratic National Committee and his campaign account than any politician in American history. This year alone, he has raked in more cash from bank employees, hedge fund managers and financial services companies than all Republican candidates combined.
Even poor Mitt Romney was outraised by the Obama money machine at his former employer, Bain Capital, by a margin of 2 to 1.
It is a campaign operation whose wheels are greased by Wall Street bundlers like MF Global former chief, Jon Corzine. These financiers are so good at what they do that the Center for Responsive Politics reports that Obama’s Wall Street fundraising will “far surpass 2008 in terms of raw dollars and as a percentage of what he raises overall.”
That’s saying a lot considering that Obama’s “Hope and Change” campaign in 2008 raised more money from the financial community than any other politician in American history.