by Robert Maynard
To say that the New York Times has been friendly to the Obama campaign would be an understatement. It would appear though that even the New York Times is starting pull the curtain back on the contradictions that surround the Obama Administration. In a recent piece entitled “White House Opens Door to Big Donors, and Lobbyists Slip In, the paper looks at an access for pay scheme that contradicts explicit stands taking by the President Obama on such matters.” The piece notes that, while Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, they have found a way around that policy so that it did not interfere with their fundraising efforts:
Although Mr. Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, a review of campaign donations and White House visitor logs shows that special interests have had little trouble making themselves heard. Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits.
There also appears to be a connection between access and the amount of money donated:
More broadly, the review showed that those who donated the most to Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party since he started running for president were far more likely to visit the White House than others. Among donors who gave $30,000 or less, about 20 percent visited the White House, according to a New York Times analysis that matched names in the visitor logs with donor records. But among those who donated $100,000 or more, the figure rises to about 75 percent. Approximately two-thirds of the president’s top fund-raisers in the 2008 campaign visited the White House at least once, some of them numerous times.
The other matter that raised some flags was the timing of the donations: “Some of the donors had no previous record of giving to the president or his party, or of making donations of such magnitude, so their gifts, sometimes given in close proximity to meetings, raise questions about whether they came with expectations of access or were expressions of gratitude.”
The report does point out that while not all of those who paid to gain access got what they wanted, the real issue is trading access for political contributions :
The reasons someone might have gained access to the White House and made a donation are wide-ranging, and it is clear that in some cases the administration came down against the policies being sought by the visitors. But the regular appearance of big donors inside the White House underscores how political contributions continue to lubricate many of the interactions between officials and their guests, if for no other reason than that donors view the money as useful for getting a foot in the door.
This leaves one to wonder how much of a role that such access led to policies ending in scandals such as the cronyism surrounding energy companies like Solyndra and the Obama Administration. The rest of the NYT article goes into detail regarding specific instances of access granted to political contributors.