Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama's "bitter" comment came at big donor fund-raiser. Meanwhile, Obama's "micro-donors" are transforming money landscape.


BERKELEY, Calif. -- The comments that landed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in a jam -- that working-class Pennsylvanians clung to guns, religion, anti-immigrant and anti-trade sentiments because they were "bitter"-- came at a high-dollar fund-raiser, the third of four San Francisco Bay area events last Sunday squeezed into an afternoon. Obama continues to woo large contributors even as the 2008 campaign marks the remarkable rise of "micro-donors."

In the space of a few hours, Obama mingled with $2,300 donors at the homes of Sara and Sohaib Abbasi; Nancy and Bob Farese plus Gordan and Ann Getty, with the political gaffe occuring at a $1,000 per-person reception at the home of Alex Mehran and Carolyn Davis in a posh area of San Francisco.

Unknown to Obama, Huffington Post Off the Bus writer Mayhill Fowler was at the closed-to-the-press reception, taped Obama's remarks and posted her scoop. Obama was handed a headache just as he is courting blue collar Pennsylvania voters.

At another $1,000-per-person fund-raiser -- Wednesday in Washington -- (the campaign allowed a pool reporter) Obama said his small-dollar fund-raising was so successful that "We have created a parallel public financing system where the American people decide if they want to support a campaign they can get on the Internet and finance it.''

Was Obama's talk of a "parallel" system a way out of a pledge to consider public financing if the nominee? Friday, Obama said "I wasn't trying to send a signal."

The 2008 cycle might mean the demise of a voluntary, public finance system, said Prof. Richard L. Hasen, an election law specialist at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who coined the term "micro donors" to describe the spike in small dollar giving. He spoke Friday at a forum sponsored by the University of California's Institute of Governmental Studies and Boalt Law School. (I was a panelist at one session.)

But now that the question is on the table: Is a "parallel" system of low-dollar contributions the same as public financing? No, because it's still private money.

However, while not the same method, both can lead to the same public policy goal of diluting the influence of money in politics, Hasen said.

"What I think he is saying," said Hasen about Obama, is "that the army of small donors serves a similar goal which is that it can promote political equality by not putting the fund-raising in the hands or large donors and it serves the anti-corruption goal because you don't have large donors giving money. By keeping the donations small, you are arguable serving the same interests."


On November 4, 2007, Mayhill Fowler wrote this about Fred Thompson in her Huffington Post blog, after attending two of his fundraisers and a Thompson press conference:

"I don't know the man and wouldn't put my name next to his--for that reason alone--no matter what his politics."

On November 8, 2008, the FEC says Mayhill Fowler put her name next to Fred Thompson's in the amount of $250.

Seems to me that Mayhill Fowler is a wolf in sheep's clothing, giving donations for access to blogging fodder.

Today (4/14), NYU professor Jay Rosen at Huffington Post's Off the Bus project quotes Fowler as saying she gave to Thompson to support a fellow Tennesseean, but that explanation is incredibly disingenuous, especially in light of her treatment of Obama.

Fowler owes us all better explanations and she owes a few politicians apologies.

Obama on DO WORDS MATTER-- HIS SKETCHY FINANCING--and ZERO accomplishments

As usual, the Obama WORM strikes (What Obama Really Meant) as someone is dug up to "explain" Obama's remarks and translate them. It's ridiculous.

Aside from that, Sweet's done a great job on this article. The fact is that Obama is trying to lie about some "parallel" financing.

Look, Obama, you get tons of money from these Fat Cats who you apparently tell all kinds of things you think they want to hear, and then you send out emails to your small donors. Thousands are college kids who are using their government loan money (my taxpayer money) to fund your campaign.

In those emails, you say you don't take PAC money. The truth, Mr. Obama, is you have given $700,000 worth of PAC money from your "Hope Fund" (isn't THAT Audacious) to your SUPERDELEGATES. That is seven times more than Hillary, it is $700,000 more than John McCain.

You made a pledge to McCain that you would do public financing to keep the money from influencing an election.

If we keep you out of the election, that might be true. But here you are, accepting money from billionaires at one mansion after another from coast to coast.

Here you are having $700,000 worth of PAC money help you get the Superdelegates you were able to get.

And, you get a LOT of money from student loans that I as a tax payer am paying for.

Lynn Sweet has already pointed out a lot of your other inconsistencies, "situational ethics."

The truth is that Obama is not transparent when it comes to money at all, his ethics are motivated by what political office he is seeking. AND he cannot point to ONE accomplishment on national stage.

He has situational ethics, and NO ACCOMPLISHMENTS!

Ms. Sweet, is this going to be another election where the media, by stoking fires and translating the real words to more salicious and longer slanted paragraphs, determines the election by influence the voters unfairly? Please check on who Mayhill Fowler really is. I've seen various theories in commentary. Some I could verify. Her blog bio says she's a southern belle. The Huffington Post fundracer site shows she gave 250 to Fred Thompson, 2,225 to Obama and her address is listed as Oakland California. I saw several comments that claimed her husband supports Hillary. Now, I searched and found a Don Fowler that was a former chairman of the Democratic Committee but can't find anything that says Mayhill and he are married. She claimed, according to CNN, that she is a "citizen journalist" and was distressed at the words and decided to post them on her blog. I find it all very suspicious, don't you? Would you please look into this? thanks, Jeri McEwen, Hummelstown PA

Regardless of who Fowler is and to whom she has donated money in the past, it doesn't change what Obama said at the fundraiser.

More McCarthyism from the Obama HQ! How very clever of Mayhill Fowler to have donated money to throw the Obama Secret Police off the track of an investigative reporter who merely
This is gonna drive the Obama HQ nuts, but TRULY inquiring, open minds who value democracy gotta know:
Cash of documents in the suitcases and on the kids when the Obamas slid outta town, ditching the reporters and the security checks with the secret service and went where?
- - - - -
(apologies Lynn, but that other paper has this and I can't find it on your paper's website. Maybe you oughta do the assignments. Move Mary Mitchell over to reporting).
Hey Jilly, tell Angellight and Julie Mack and the other kids travelin' with the messiah hoping to get a job in the white house that attacking HIlary right now is exactly what Howard Dean asked the campaigns not to do.
Hilary's been a class act.
Not so Obama. When he issues his W.O.R.M. statements (what i really meant) he ALWAYS blames Hilary for it making the news-- and it's always false! It is always a news story ahead of time.
He's a spoiler.
I think he's crooked and you don't wanna see it.
It would be a form of withdrawal from the messianic training the Obamas made you endure. (The campaign's looking more and more like a bad cult--the worse thing in the Mayhill Fowler piece was the bit where he said he wanted 'new people' to replace the party stalwarts. He doesn't mention anything about stolen elections. And he's a closet sexist who won't admit he likes his women a certain demure way).
Wake up.
Why you think he took that trip to the caribbean right about now--with all those secret service guys to hurry through the security? Taking cash? Documents about Rezko and god knows what?
Read a newspaper. Get off the blogs and live your life!,0,7957753.htmlstory
- - - -
- Witness tells of mysterious ‘consultant’
- Investment firm received contract from Caribbean.
- - - -
- Witness tells of mysterious ‘consultant’
- Investment firm received contract from Caribbean.
Okay, time's up. Where did the Obamas' go for vacation?
Badda Bing! spoiler alert.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 13, 2008 4:07 PM.

UPDATE "No trip planned" OLD Obama planning Israel trip was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama's "bitter" comment came at high-roller fund-raiser. Meanwhile, Obama's "micro-donors" are transforming money landscape. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.