WASHINGTON—UPDATE. After I raised the issue of opening the closed Obama-Clinton Thursday evening meeting with donors and fund-raisers to the press, the Obama campaign on Thursday afternoon agreed to allow a pool reporter to cover the event.
Meanwhile, I've learned that about 170 Clinton VIP donors are expected.There was going to be a small reception of the most elite donors with Obama and Clinton before the main reception for more exclusive meet and greet, but that was canceled.END OF UPDATE.
ORIGINAL Reporters are banned from covering the meeting presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) are having Thursday night at the Mayflower Hotel here with Clinton’s best fund-raisers. It is their first joint appearance since Obama clinched the nomination.
This event has everything to do with big money in politics yet the Obama campaign does not see any reason to at least include a pool reporter.
I pushed to have this event opened up on Wednesday, when I asked Obama campaign manager David Plouffe if he would allow in at least a pooler.
I did this at a briefing Plouffe was having for reporters at the Democratic National Committee.
I asked Plouffe for open coverage, or at least a pooler. When I did, I made a point to praise the campaign for the steps it has taken to do more in the sunlight because as many of my readers know, I have been on Obama’s back for years—since 2004--about fund-raising in secret.
As of this month, Obama now allows reporters in all his fund-raisers, even ones in private homes. That’s a new standard—the highest in the political business-- and one I hope others in political life emulate. Because of the Obama pressure, rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.) finally opened up his fund-raising events.
Because of my, well, nagging on disclosure, all of Michelle Obama’s fund-raising events are now put on her schedule, though whether pool reporters at least can cover her fund-raising events in non-public places has not been established. There is no disclosure on what Cindy McCain does on the fund-raising front.
Plouffe seemed to appreciate that I took note of Obama’s new standards and then turned to the matter of opening up the Thursday night event. Plouffe said the meeting was closed because these were Clinton’s donors,as if that matters or if they dictate Obama campaign policy. That sounded to me like a lame excuse. What, at this point blaming Clinton? Obama is going to this event so he can get Clinton's richest, best networked donors—the ones who have raised her $250,000 and up on board his campaign.
Either you believe in transparency or you don’t. Transparency in government and political life is either natural to how you operate, what you believe, what the public has a right to know or it is just another political tactic.