October 28th, 2009
04:16 PM ET
4 years ago

Gibbs denies quid pro quo after DNC donor story

The White House is denying that top donors got special access to administration officials.
The White House is denying that top donors got special access to administration officials.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republicans are seizing on a new report that suggests the Obama administration has been granting top Democratic donors access to senior administration officials if they commit to raising bundles of cash before the 2010 midterm elections.

The story - published Wednesday in the Washington Times - revealed an internal Democratic National Committee memo outlining how high-level donors are named members of a "National Finance Committee" that is granted access to "senior members of the administration" in Washington meetings and conference calls. The paper also listed several campaign donors who have been invited to official state functions, used the bowling alley in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, or screened movies inside the president's mansion.

Asked if there was any quid pro quo involved, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, "No, of course not."

Gibbs downplayed the report during Wednesday's press briefing, boasting that the president has instituted "the very toughest ethics and transparency rules of any administration." Following up on an earlier pledge to do so, he added that the White House will soon release White House guest logs cataloguing every person who has visited the White House, including details on "who that person is, when they came, how long they were here and who they met with."

"Contributing doesn't guarantee a visit to the White House, nor does it preclude it," Gibbs said. "Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the White House since the president came in." He then referred further questions to the DNC.

DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said the committee "routinely identifies appropriate opportunities for party supporters to meet their leaders in the Administration and the Democratic Congressional majority," he said in an e-mail. "This is true for donors, grassroots activists and others who are engaged and active on behalf of our party in different ways and who welcome the chance to meet their leadership."

The Republican National Committee is not satisfied.

RNC chairman Michael Steele released a statement Wednesday calling for an investigation into "into the degree and details of fundraising efforts between the White House and DNC, whether there was any quid pro quo offered to donors, and the names of White House officials who were involved in such activities."

"For a candidate who campaigned on transparency, it is beyond hypocritical for the White House to simply shrug off questions about the privileges provided high dollar Democrat donors," RNC spokesman Gail Gitcho said in an e-mail to CNN. "This is a serious issue of transparency the American people need answered."


Filed under: DNC • Michael Steele • President Obama • RNC
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Pay to Play - Obama Style

    This is classic South Side Chicago politics – Pay to Play Obama style. And if anyone buys what Gibbs puts out, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale

    October 28, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  2. Nini

    Every thing and everyone has a price the only difference is Democrats are cheap and can be bought easily.
    This is not the first time money will opens the way to reach this WH.
    Didn’t a similar memo and invitation went out from one our Newspapers not too long ago?!!!!!

    CNN why not report that and make the connection and the pattern.

    October 28, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. all the news that's fit to omit

    Hey, if you keep saying you have the most transparent administration ever maybe some sheep will uh, uh, uh, uh actually believe it based ON NOTHING REAL of course.

    If you GIVE us a certain amount of bundled money we will give you unfettered access to HIGH UP admin officials so you can peddle your "ideas" and maybe bowl a few strings or have a romp in the lincoln bedroom.

    The first gutless lefty that posts on this (after Oprah I am sure) will of course mention George Bush as the morons can't argue with facts, they need to simply recite the old party favorites.

    I'll save you cowards the trouble, this is Bush's fault and Palin's and probably Cheney as well.

    What else you nitwits got?

    October 28, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. R in Maine

    The Repubs will say anything, suck up to anybody, if they think it will help them politically, even it if is substantially less that patriotic or faithful to the country.

    October 28, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Brina

    LOL........if they were accusing him of something specific then I could understand but they're not. Another Stupid article about nothing.

    October 28, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. Scott, Tucson

    Transparency...like his Obamacare plan? LOL!

    October 28, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Bryan

    How much do I have to pay to bowl at the White House?

    What about movies how much are the tickets?

    October 28, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    The Washington Times? You mean Sun Myung Moon's right wing trash rag? Criticism from the right wing which screamed bloody murder when anyone dared to look at the Bush White House visitor log?

    October 28, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. LIP

    Doesn't this sound a lot like the politics of Chicago that was used to replace Obama's Senate seat. "Give us money and you get a shot at the seat", and now "give us money and you get to visit with the Pres". Makes me think of the days of Clinton, when favors bought a night in the Lincoln bedroom.
    Oh well, these people are all crooks, to include both parties in Congress and they are just dining and dashing on our buck..
    Will we ever learn...not!

    October 28, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. MatthewDetroit

    Gibbs is a liar.
    This happened during the Clinton presidency and it is happening again.
    It is a dishonor to the country.
    Lousy president.

    October 28, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Johnny DC

    It is amazing how and where Liberal America draws its lines in the sand on transparency and morals.

    Both parties are guilty of this. Both parties are corrupt. But only one party is ever recognized, ridiculed, and persecuted for it.

    Hypocrisy is thriving under this administration.

    October 28, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. felicia

    So what, President Obama is a good fund raiser he is the President why would he do anything illegal like the repigs are tryna put it. What a bunch of sore losers

    October 28, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. Chief

    Him speak with forked tongue.

    October 28, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Wake Up

    Shocker. Obama is the opposite of everything he promised. He is MORE partisan..takes MORE money, ATTACKS more....and Gibbs is just a complete liar. It's embarassing he speaks for our President.

    October 28, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    At least he's saying who's been visiting...cough...Bush....cough...Cheney...cough cough...

    October 28, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. unshrub

    Why don't these republicans get some real work done for a change.

    October 28, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Rose

    If Obama is inviting these big time donors to the White House and hauling in a pile of money for the DNC then the DNC should pay for all of the entertainment, food and whatever benefits these donors are receiving. Why should ALL of the taxpayers pay for these perks that the DNC is going to profit from. Furthermore, the Obama's don't own the White House, the people own it and I think we should know who is getting these special perks.

    October 28, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. Wake Up

    chi-town politics at its best! Reward you cronies and spend us into debt. For all of you people who mention Bush in comparison to Obama....if you hate bush but compare Obama to him...well what does that say about Obama?
    You Obamabots like snifit are hilariously nuts.

    October 28, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but....

    So they're saying that Obama's administration is the first to do this? Are they really that naive? Or are they desperately trying to dredge up anything they can to stop the president's progressive agenda and motivate their slack-jawed base? Have a nice day!

    October 28, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. phoenix86

    Personal attacks on those who have a different opinion.
    Ignoring and deflecting the truth of your failures.
    Quid pro quo (aka: selling access to the highest bidders).

    Chicago has come to Washington!

    October 28, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. Clint

    If you are surprised by this, you are either not being honest with yourself or in the second grade. This is Politics 101. You pay to play.

    October 28, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. b franklin

    This group in the White House is interested in but 2 things.
    Money and Power.
    Obama is campaigner in chief, while Emmanuel goes around blaming everyone else for everything. Meanwhile Gibbs touts progress on things like transparency while negotiations for health care reform go on behind closed doors and the media has been complaining that they have not been very forthcoming with information.
    But hey, at least they've taken on Fox News.

    October 28, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. independent from DEM

    No transparency in WH. He made big promises and drew a rosy picture called HOPE. But he has no ability and guts to deliver them at all.

    I regret voting for him. I miss Hillary.

    October 28, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. tee

    Wake up
    Sarah palin was an embarasment....but I'll bet you voted for her.....I am proud of my President....inspite of all the garbage he has to put up with......and all the garbage he has to fix......you must post while your sleep.........WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!

    October 28, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. The Party of No = The Party of Nobody

    Oh shut up, Republican'ts! Your holier-than-thou-attitudes are sickening! This from the party that blocks every piece of health insurance reform because they're all on the take from the health insurance cartel . . . give me a break!

    October 28, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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