Friday, November 20, 2009

Big campaign donors and the White House

"What does being a top Democratic donor get you in Obama's Washington? The White House fought back hard Wednesday morning against the suggestion by top Republicans that money can buy untoward access to his administration. The charge from the chairman of the GOP came after a report in the Washington Times that the Democratic National Committee rewards its top contributors with perks that include small-group briefings with senior Obama administration officials, conference calls and other exclusive access to policymakers. Two one-page fact sheets posted online Wednesday by the paper explain the benefits of membership in the DNC's National Advisory Board and its National Finance Committee. Donors who give the maximum allowed by law to the party -- $30,400 -- or who bundle $300,000 from other contributors, gain membership into the exclusive groups. "Together with the National Finance Committee, the National Advisory Board meets four times throughout the year in Washington, D.C. to discuss current issues, policies, and strategies," one of the documents says. "They have an opportunity to meet senior members of the Obama administration and senior members of Congress, and to hear from political analysts and policy experts."

Do big donors get special access to the White House? You can believe the White House press office's denials, or you can believe the promises made to the donors in writing by the fundraisers.

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