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Obama mega donors rewarded with administration appointments UPDATE

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WASHINGTON--A new study found that 80 percent of President Obama's best 2008 campaign fund-raising "bundlers" were rewarded with "key administration posts," with other major donors getting access to the White House.

"More than two years after President Obama took office vowing to banish "special interests" from his administration, nearly 200 of his biggest donors have landed plum government jobs and advisory posts, won federal contracts worth millions of dollars for their business interests or attended numerous elite White House meetings and social events, an investigation by iWatch News has found."

Bundlers are well-connected individuals who use their own networks to raise money for a candidate. Bundlers are vital to federal campaigns, where there is a donation cap of $2,500 for a primary and $2,500 for a general election and other limits for overall donations to parties. Obama's 2008 and 2012 National Finance Committee is made up of people who have made pledges to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars directly for the Obama 2012 re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

The study on money and influence in the Obama White House, by reporters Fred Schulte, John Aloysius Farrell and Jeremy Borden, was based on White House visitor records, campaign disclosure reports and other government databases. is an investigative arm of the Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan organization.

The topline findings include:

"Overall, 184 of 556, or about one-third, of Obama bundlers or their spouses joined the administration in some role. But the percentages are much higher for the big-dollar bundlers. Nearly 80 percent of those who collected more than $500,000 for Obama took "key administration posts," as defined by the White House. More than half the ambassador nominees who were bundlers raised more than half a million."





Q: Jay, following up on that, are you saying that raising or bundling $100,000 or $500,000 does not give a person any leg up in looking for an administration job?

MR. CARNEY: I am saying that. I'm saying that the president appoints people based on their qualifications.

Q: Having nothing to do with raising a half-million dollars?

MR. CARNEY: Chip, I think that -- I didn't raise a half-million dollars.

I didn't raise any money. I'm standing here.

And the fact is that we -- the president made clear that he would make political appointments, as every president before him has. But we have enacted ethical standards and levels of transparency that are unprecedented, that we believe should give the American people the kind of confidence that they have lacked in the past that the people that the president has appointed to these jobs are highly qualified and have the credentials necessary to perform their duties.

Q: So nearly 80 percent of people who bundled more than $500,000 got key administration positions. That has nothing to do with the money -- (inaudible)?

MR. CARNEY: Chip, I don't -- we can -- we can have this discussion. Those people are highly qualified individuals who happen to be highly successful in the things that they've done in life. But the fact is, I would -- you know, look at the people we've appointed, look at their credentials, look at their qualifications.

Q: And look at the money they've raised. That's not a factor?

Q: (Laughs.)

MR. CARNEY: And I'm saying, it is not a disqualification for office to have been a supporter of the president.

Q: Would it be wrong to reward people for the hard work of raising half a million --

MR. CARNEY: It would be wrong if they weren't qualified.

Q: But would it be wrong --

MR. CARNEY: And we stand by the -- it would be wrong if they were not qualified. I think I answered your question.

Q: But would it be wrong to take that as a -- consider that as a factor, that hard work of raising all that money, half a million dollars? That's a lot of money. That's a lot of work.

MR. CARNEY: The -- I think I've said everything I can say about this, and I've answered your question. It would be wrong to appoint someone who wasn't qualified to the job. And the president has appointed highly qualified individuals to the positions that he has appointed as president, and we stand by those appointments.

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Lynn Sweet

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

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on June 15, 2011 1:12 PM.

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