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. Ridgeway

    Welcome to Washington D. Chicago where cash is king. This administration is a bad Saturday Night Live skit. Everyone in it is an actor just pretending to be real from the President down.

    October 28, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Larry S

    When are you going to realize and accept that oBLAHma and his boys gang are a bunch of liers. Gibbs talks about transparency . . . if anyone belives this presidency has transparency, than you are as sick as the ones in DC.
    I now believe that the current group are actually unamerican and have little respect for our country.

    October 28, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Larry S

    Gibbs is a liar . . . how can you blame something said by oBLAHma as something caused by Bush. Oh yes, I forgot . . . Obie and his followers are a bunch of children and will not accept responsibility for their actions. I guess that is why they are doing very little for our country.

    October 28, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. nikkie

    CNN, I was your loyal viewer for 22 years until 2008 election. Every night I watched AC360, The strategy Room ... But your biased reporting kept viewers like us away. I felt so puzzled that why CNN has to lick his ... It's not good for you and not good for the viewers. As viewers, we want to get info. from different sources, including FOX, ABC, NBC ... Please stand up and provide us neutual and fair coverages for the news. Don't let journalism die in the hands of the MSM.

    October 28, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Bluebonnet

    I am so amazed at the idiots posting on these blogs – blaming republicans for every challenge made toward Obama! Don't you losers realize that it is NOT only the republicans, but moderate independents (who, by the way, swung the vote for Nobama and won't again, you can bet on that) and a lot of democrats that are fed up with this administration's do nothing, tax the hell out of us administration? Get a grip you losers/entitlement/kool-aid drinking fools and wise up.

    October 28, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. Candide

    Baloney! This White House the most ethical and transparent? Not so much. Gibbs looks even more foolish than usual by making such a claim. Nor is it the first time the Democrats have sold stays to the highest bidder.

    October 28, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. Bev

    Go to Judicialwatch.org---The Obama Admin has REFUSED to release information on who has been visiting the White House.

    However, Judicial Watch has given Obama a warning--they will NOT stop until they get the information!!!!

    Me personally, I can't wait until Judicial Watch gets the information and it is released!!!!

    October 28, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Cindy

    I dunno... it seems very uncharacteristic of the Obama team.

    Remember the Rod Blagojevich phone call where he was whining about getting nothing but a "note of appreciation" (and no payola) for his support? Why would the team jepordize that reputation now? I can see donors expecting that treatment, as Blago did. But after getting disappointment, and complaining about it, there may have been some appeasement... but doubtful it would be a total reversal.

    October 28, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. Mr. Moderate

    Given that the Republicans were crediting Reagans 1980s tax cuts for the economic expansion in the 1990s, I think we still got some time to blame Bush for the problems this country is facing.

    October 28, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Bren

    The Chicago "pay to play" way has left Chicago, and is now in Washington!!!

    Is this true.............."Of course Not" Gibbs says.

    And, the majority of the media, the Democrats, etc.--–just continue to blindly and cluelessly follow and support---they even help to provide cover for them.

    October 28, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. David from WI

    People voted for him for change not the same DC politics right?
    Notice when ever they get backed into a corner they respond with, all politicians, avoid the question by diverting attention to someone else, Gibbs says he doesn't know he has to check etc etc...
    They said they would run things with more honestly and transparency and except for throwing a few bones to the American people it does look like all the talk was just a candidate making promises to get elected.
    All politicians do it but he did say he was different and those that voted for him did think he was special.
    Just another politician after all. Not necessarily a bad thing but should be a dissapointment none the less.

    October 28, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. ttbala

    All you Repubs again being hypocrites, did Bush or Cheney give the visitors Log to anybody, I want any Republican to stand and say yes then you can blame Obama admin, lets not be such Hypocrites it is laughable!!!

    October 28, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. single mom

    Transparency? Openness? Bipartisan?

    The only fools were those who believed someone who came up through Chicago politics. Obama has been like this since he started, definitely while he was running for Senator. The first time I heard his name was when SEALED divorce records for his opponent were ILLEGALLY opened and sent to the press. He's as, if not more, corrupt than Nixon.

    October 28, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  14. Bev

    Look at all of the unbiased, national polls-–Rasmussen, Gallup, pollster, etc.--–Obama is going to be "one and done". The Democrats are now even talking about running someone against him in 2012!!

    And, based on these same polls---the Democrats are going to get clobbered in 2010 and 2012!!!

    October 28, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Jon-In-Ca

    Gibbs denying these claims is akin to Baghdad Bob saying Saddam was winning the war (meanwhile US tanks rolled into town behind Baghdad Bob).

    Sorry Gibbs – you're credibility is toast!

    October 28, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  16. Carlos

    This clown has to be the worst wh press rep in history, there are several you tube videos on him that are hilarious.

    October 28, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  17. Dianne

    CNN did your news agency investigate and report about donations of those who stayed u at the White House under former Pres. Bush? I remember CNN made a big issue of this when Pres. Clinton was in office. CNN do you not investigate all news about republicans as well as demorates? Obviously, you are bit biased. The questioning of this administration and polls done every time from a few weeks in office is biased considering these questions and polls were not asked of the American people from day one of the Bush Administration.

    October 28, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. Susan

    Obama loves to think up ways to take our money and give it to somebody else while he is flying all over the place, playing golf, throwing parties,and having date nights.

    He is bankrupting this country with the help of Pelosi and Reid.

    Obama and his people continue talking about the tax cut that 95% of us got. I seriously doubt that most people even noticed the extra $7 a payday.

    October 28, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. Kyle

    "Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the White House since the president came in." How many? Seriously? Does this guy even go through his words before they come out?

    October 28, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  20. Wake Up

    Remember the phone call from Blago to Rham Emanuel asking for something for the senate seat? I wonder why he knew to ask Obama. Blago knew Obama plays the "pay to play game". Obama is worse then anyone, because he pretends to be above politics....all the while he is an attack dog, rewards cronies, and lies and lies.
    What a waste of energy.

    October 28, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Ken

    Didn't care when Clinton or Bush were in office and I don't care now. There are more important things going on. Stop focusing on things not newsworthy.

    October 28, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. Wake Up

    Tee-I'm from chicago, I'm not ignorant to what the politicians do. They lie, and live by "pay to play". Quit drinking the kool-aid and question your government. Unless you are one of those people who what federal govt what to eat, think and drink?
    Obama is a fraud. Political parties care nothing for you!!

    October 28, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  23. Stacie

    How is this a story? Please give me a name of a President who hasn't given top donors tours of the White House. Heck, W had all his friends over. Worse yet...he hired them for high level jobs. How do you think we ended up with a FEMA director whose only managerial experience was in the horse racing circuit? Remember when Bushie said, "You're doin' a heck of a job Brownie" in the wake of Katrina.

    October 28, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  24. Proud Member..Party of No

    How's that Hope & Change thing going?

    Crooked, corrupt, liars, thieves and lunatics is the only way to describe this disaster of a president and his administration.

    October 28, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  25. Jobless Recovery

    Obamabots will believe it! They are the ones in believe in the slogan "saved or created jobs". So they've "saved or created" 45,000 jobs. that's 500,000 per job! You Obamabots really believe that's our tax dollars well spent?

    October 28, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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