Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Warren Buffett to headline $28,500-per-person "private dinner" for Obama at finance chair Penny Prizker home; senior advisor Valerie Jarrett a host.

| 16 Comments

WASHINGTON--Superinvestor Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway--who with his daughter Susan early on spotted presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as a comer-- will headline a $28,500-per-person fund-raiser (to raise or give) July 2 at the Chicago home of Obama finance chair Penny Pritzker. Sharing host duties will be Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.

FOOTNOTE: In a Dec. 4, 2004, column, I wrote about how Obama took a secretive flight to visit Buffett, urging Obama to be more open and transparent when he travels on government or political business. Since then, Obama has embraced transparency as a central plank of his candidacy. Obama a few weeks ago opened all his fund-raisers to at least a pool reporter and rival Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), under pressure, caved and last week opened what had been closed fund-raisers to the press.

Obama has evolved on transparency. Excerpt from my 2004 column, written just after he was elected to the Senate but not yet sworn in....
Obama continues, as I've noted in past columns, to not see much point in transparency about his activities; this was true during the campaign and remains so in the transition period before he is sworn into the Senate next month. I think Obama should be open and not secretive when he travels on government or political business.

click below for entire 2004 column, where Obama also talks about all the hype surrounding him....

December 6, 2004 Monday

Takes secretive flight to visit Buffett

BYLINE: Lynn Sweet


A week ago today, Sen.-elect Barack Obama (D-Ill.) chartered an airplane and flew to Omaha, Neb., to lunch with billionaire Warren Buffett and his daughter Susan, who donated $1,000 to Obama last August.

Obama would rather you not know about his meal with Buffett and his daughter. It is none of your business to know that Obama went to some effort to meet with Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, who is one of the most influential business executives in the country. Or that the meeting was arranged at the suggestion of a well-connected donor.

I can't understand why someone who is one of the most popular political figures in the country, who is the author of a best-selling book and who even has his autograph on sale on eBay, does not want to operate in the sunlight.

Obama continues, as I've noted in past columns, to not see much point in transparency about his activities; this was true during the campaign and remains so in the transition period before he is sworn into the Senate next month. I think Obama should be open and not secretive when he travels on government or political business.

Perhaps Obama or members of his staff are worried about his image.

Obama's campaign arranged for and paid for the plane, according to spokesman Robert Gibbs. Obama traveled by private plane because it made the trip easier to work with his schedule, said Gibbs.

Charter travel certainly does save time. But it is hardly a man-of-the-people touch. Most of us have no choice but to fly commercial. And most of us do not have a campaign fund to pay for a charter.

Yes, flying a charter to lunch with Buffett may not play in Peoria.

Obama met with Buffett at the suggestion of Susan Buffett, who, like her father, is a frequent, but relatively modest Democratic donor. She mentioned Obama to her father and he was interested in meeting him, according to Gibbs.

Gibbs said the Omaha trip was not put on any schedule for Obama because it was not a public event." He said he thought they may have discussed tax and Social Security reform.

Later this month, Obama heads to his native Hawaii for a Democratic fund-raiser, to visit the Punahou School, where he graduated in 1979, and to see family. Tonight, he speaks to the Economic Club in Chicago.

********** ***************** *******************
Democrat Obama and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, both rising stars in their parties, keynoted Saturday's winter Gridiron Club dinner in Washington. Each used heavy doses of self-deprecating humor before the black-tie gathering of journalists. (Disclosure: I am in the club. )

Both men are mentioned as possible 2008 contenders, and that provided much grist for their respective funny shticks. Obama and Romney, the dueling stars, were very, very good. Romney was better, mainly because he also sang (a ditty to the tune of "Charley and the MTA") and he came with a witty visual presentation.

Romney had a few zingers aimed at Obama.Obama,he said, is not seeking the limelight" after all. Obama has said that again and again"-- then Romney named some of the many national shows Obama has been on just in the past few weeks.

Obama,who went on first, said everything changed for him after he keynoted the Democratic convention.

It's like I was shot out of a cannon. I am so overexposed, I make Paris Hilton look like a recluse. "After all the attention -- People magazine, GQ, Vanity Fair, Letterman -- I figure there's nowhere to go from here but down. So tonight, I announce my retirement from the United States Senate. I had a good run."

He said he was not letting all the attention go to his head. He joked that he was hanging out with Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson at a Los Angeles restaurant when Barbra Steisand called him on his cell phone. And he counseled her, you can't just get caught up in the hype."

Of course, all the hype, said Obama, generates wacky tabloid coverage." And with that he hoisted a poster, a mock cover of the National Enquirer with the headline: Obama's shocking secret. He's Strom Thurmond's love child."

It is tough, kidded Obama,to live up to all the expectations. There are people in Kenya, his father's homeland, who expect his election to mean the United States will fund new roads, new bridges and new schools.

Joked Obama, "I had to explain to them how it works. First comes the invasion, and then billions in aid."

16 Comments

WHEN WARREN BUFFETT HAS AN EVENT, IT'S A MEGA EVENT!
WARREN BUFFETT IS FOR BARACK OBAMA AND SO AM I!

my my how these "rich" people stick together..is this the same group who Obama will raise taxes on first???Maybe MS.Pritzer
Will get a percentage of proceeds so she can pay back the $450 million she owes to FDIC for SUPERIOR BANK default that cost taxpayers a billion $$$$$....uh yes the HYATT family may be "forgiven" of that debt you think???? isn't it strange how BEAR & STEARNS bailed out MS.PRITZER'S BANK....

I believe the author of this article is trying to say Obama is not doing right by allowing this event to take place??

I say otherwise. This tells me that smart businesspeople know that Dems improve the economy a lot better than Neo-War-Cons

Warren Buffet lives in my home town. He is the MOST down to earth person known. He still lives in the same house he had before he made all the money! He has said numerous times, he should pay MORE in taxes. He's also made it clear that his kids will not inherit his billions- Bill Gates's charity organization will. Some people know about a little thing called Sacrifice

I abhor the fact that people seem so shallow as to suggest these people are helping anyone but themselves.
As with MS/NBC's Bill Gates ass kissing ceremony, I find this crap equally appalling. For cryin' out loud, these jerks are sucking so much money from the economy that everyone seems not to notice what a problem it is. I mean the 10 richest people in the world have an accumulated wealth greater than the majority of the countries in the world.
Would someone like to explain to me what makes these people good people?
Is it the paltry amounts they contribute to so-called charities or "humanitarian causes"?
Give me a freakin' break! These people are no different that that creep Rupert Murdoch, except they disguise themselves as charitable people while sticking their vacuum hose into the economy and increasing their own PERSONAL wealth.
The distribution of wealth in this country has been more one-sided than it is now; however, the filthy rich have never been richer than they are now either.
What has changes since the British were run out on a rail 230+ years ago?
With people starving around the world, I expect people like Buffet and Gates to pony up and perform substantial acts for the real poor, like those STARVING people around the world, and those people living in POVERTY since they are draining so much financially from the WORLD'S economies.

Whatever you do, stop glorifying this behavior. Quite frankly, it is disgusting!

I have a problem with Warren Buffett as depicted in FREE LUNCH. The guy (buffett) is getting a pass on his income taxes - he is going to pay them in 28 years and incurring no interest on them. I want a mortgage like that..

He is also part of the cabal that is skimming state taxes on utilities, he is collecting them and putting them into his own back pocket instead of remitting them to the states, so any state shortfall is stuck to the regular joe.

I hate to see Obama cozying up like this....Buffett will vote his pocket book and will vote for McCain and has no intention of mending his ways of stealing from the taxpayers... We all are paying for his share...

WARREN BUFFETT KNOWS IT IS BETTER FOR THE U.S. ECONOMY FOR OBAMA TO BE ELECTED PRESIDENT. BUFFETT WILL PAY MORE TAXES BUT IN THE LONG RUN BOTH HE AND HIS COUNTRY WILL FARE BETTER.

the 'scoop' from Washington? pretty easy to work out what this is a scoop of... And is that the best you can do? "he even has his autograph for sale on eBay"? Wow, that really accurately measures your levels of accuracy and relevance right there.

Warren Buffett has said many times that he does not mind paying higher taxes, he said it was sad that his secretary paid more then he did. But then no matter what , there will always be whiners and criers and haters.Jealousy, hate, fear are wasted emotions............
OBama Yes we can!

Yes, most people don't have a campaign fund to pay for a charter flight because MOST OF US DON'T HAVE CAMPAIGNS BECAUSE WE AREN'T RUNNING FOR POLITICAL OFFICE!

How "man of the people" do you expect a person running for President to be? Should he not have security, travel only on regular commercial flights, always drive himself to and from meetings/speaking engagements, avoid meeting with people that a regular 'man of the people' wouldn't normal get a chance to meet, and otherwise not do most things unless it counts as something 'man of the people' do?

Even though he is running for the Presidency, he is still a human being, and is still allowed to meet with Mr. Buffet without issuing a press-release (or special note to you) before or after such a meeting. He is not doing anything illegal, and he is not having any meeting that is abnormal for a politician, or for that matter any person who happens to have a chance to meet with Warren Buffet. Yes, he is also allowed to have fundraisers held for him.

Why is he required to be 'man of the people' enough to make YOU feel comfortable that he isn't too elite for your liking? What other candidate have you required not to act 'uppity' as far as you are concerned -- or is it just Obama that has to stay in a certain place? Why are you so bothered that he is doing things that you aren't?

Considering how much money Buffett donates to charity, I hardly think he would be bothered by paying more in taxes. It's just a shame that other rich people don't feel the same.

What's your point???It is simply amazing that don't you ask Bill Clinton about all the secretive flights he was taking while Hillary was campaigning On two private jets no less...interesting double standard don't you think? What about John McCain and his flights on his wealthy wifes jet. I am from Arizona and if they start to really expose Senator McCains life here in our great state the entire country would be mortified!
But of course what would you expect from those in our society that believe that only people of certain ethnic groups are entitled to meet whoever they want whenever they want, to say whatever they want and are the only people who love this country and would like to see it back on track. This is America. Warren Buffet is old money, great values, and someone who understands and had predicted the greatness in many people long before they even recognized it in themselves. If he and Obama want to meet so be it. If he and his daughter want to throw a great party that costs alot to attend! How great is that!!!The only hype evident and has continued through this entire campaign season is the media lynching that continues against Senator Obama and his lovely smart wife. I am a 50 year old white woman of means(as defined by others not myself) and find Senator Obama a refreshing change that is needed. Don't really care about his color but I do care about this country and the direction has taken. It is clear that we need a new path. There is something to be said when you have the old blue blood establishment--Kennedy, Rockerfeller, Eisenhower and now Buffet in your corner. Smart people The Buffet Klan... and those of us who understand the complexity in being the first African American US President. My question to you is do we need to know when the Senator excuses himself to go to the men's room as well??? There is a point when it is ridiculous. I think you and many others in the media may have reached that point. Kudos to Buffett and his daughter! Senator Obama has my vote for the Presidency of this country in spite of people like you.

Obviously, the previous poster knows nothing of Warren Buffet - he was AGAINST Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, and said so at every opportunity. Bank default - Keating Five?

John McCain flying to campaign events on his wife's personal jet won't play in Peoria either.

The contribution limit for a candidate is $2,300. Buffett must be holding a DNC fundraiser, not an Obama fundraiser. People can contribute up to $28,500 to a political party.

I'm so glad Barack has found a way to run his campaign with money from the "little people"...
He's some kind of political change agent alright - changes
formerly free thinking humans into pods.

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets

Video

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 June 16, 2008 9:43 AM.

Michigan GOP video hits Obama as he returns to Michigan for general election was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama in Flint, Mich. says McCain will keep U.S. in economic hole. is the next entry in this blog.

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