Obomination: The DNC’s New Fundraising Headquarters at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
The White House has been finding lots of ways to
package everything Obama does as “unprecedented.” But on June 17, White House Press Secretary
Jay Carney reversed course to call a March 7 meeting with the 44th president “totally
precedented.” White House counsel
Kathryn Ruemmler has claimed
that Obama’s behavior was “consistent with the practices of prior Administrations
from both political parties.” There’s a
reason behind the complete reversal in terminology: Obama may have violated the
On March 7, the Democratic National Committee
sponsored a meeting of two dozen Wall Street executives with President Obama in
the Blue Room of the White House. There’s
only one problem: using the White House for fundraising purposes is illegal.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s claim that
“[t]his was not a fundraiser” seems highly suspect.
The Democratic National Committee was involved in
multiple ways: the DNC invited
the guests, paid
the $68 tab, and DNC leadership was in attendance.
Including DNC executive director Patrick Gaspard, DNC treasurer Andy Tobias,
and DNC fundraiser Brad Thompson.
The invited guests
to the March 7 meeting all previously donated
to Obama in 2007 or 2008. They included
former New Jersey Gov. and former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine former
technology executive Bernard Schwartz and banking executive James Staley. Also important is that the meeting was not listed on President
Obama’s public schedule.
Press accounts offer further evidence that this event
was of questionable legality. Two
the meeting was “clearly related to the campaign.” Obama also followed
up the meeting with fundraising phone calls to the Wall Street executives. A subsequent fundraising event orchestrated
by the DNC was held
in the New York home of Marc Lasry, CEO of Avenue Capital Group, who was in
attendance at the March 7 meeting.
Donors who attended the meeting later gave
$1,750,254 to Obama and Democratic congressional candidates. Sixteen of the attendees raised
$3.95 million to Obama’s 2012 election race.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
has launched an investigation of this meeting.
Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.-49) sent a letter on July 11 to
White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, requesting documents and communications
between White House staff related to the March 7 event. Issa then sent a letter
on July 13 to DNC Executive Director Patrick Gaspard demanding all DNC records
including the invitations and RSVPs.
to hold Congressional hearings with “White House people testifying.”
Richard Painter, President Bush’s ethics counsel in
the White House, said,
“It’s obvious that the DNC is going after these people for money, not just for
their thoughts.” Scott Coffina, ethics
adviser to Bush, also weighed
in on the ethical issues, by noting “It is unclear why the Democratic National
Committee would have been used to organize a meeting to solicit advice on the
Many liberal organizations also have expressed their
concern about this meeting. Meredith
McGehee of the Campaign Legal Center questioned
the DNC-sponsorship, because “[t]hat’s what raises the eyebrows.” Mary Boyle, vice president of communications
for Common Cause, said,
“It looks bad. It’s disappointing that [Obama]… would host in the White House a
meeting with past or current donors.” Fred
Wertheimer of Democracy 21 declared,
“Meetings in the White House should not have any political fundraising
How can a president have the audacity to let party
operatives send invitations, as well as come and foot the bill for a meeting
with donors at the White House? Now,
that’s “totally unprecedented.”