It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
More than two years after 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.
These “bundlers” raised at least $50,000 — and sometimes more than $500,000 — in campaign donations for Obama’s campaign. Many of those in the “Class of 2008” are now being asked to bundle contributions for Obama’s reelection, an effort that could cost $1 billion.
As a candidate, Obama spoke passionately about diminishing the clout of moneyed interests. Kicking off his presidential run on Feb. 10, 2007, he blasted “the cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests,” who had “turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.”
“We’re here today to take it back,” he said.
But just like other presidential aspirants, Obama relied heavily on megadonors to propel his campaign across the finish line, and many fundraisers have shared in the spoils of victory.
Politico reports on the case of Donald Gips, a telecom-industry executive that delivered more than $500,000 in contributions to Obama’s 2008 campaign. In the summer of 2009, Gips got named ambassador to South Africa, a prestigious if quiet diplomatic posting, but that wasn’t the best return on Gips’ investment. His company, Level 3 Communications, got $13.8 million in Porkulus dollars for broadband projects — about which Gips claimed he knew nothing at all.
IWatch investigated the outcomes for 556 bundlers in the 2008 Obama campaign. Of those, 184 found jobs in the administration, or just shy of a third. However, 80% 0f the big-ticket ($500K+) bundlers ended up with “key administration posts.” The bundlers account for over 3,000 White House meetings and visits, a rather traditional means of thanking key contributors, and certainly less expensive than giving them sinecures in the executive branch.
Half of the 24 bundlers appointed to ambassador positions raised $500,000 or more in 2008. That has raised the ire of the American Foreign Service Association, which represents career diplomats:
“Any president who says he’s going to change this is either hopelessly naive or polishing the reality to promise something other than can be delivered,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor and an expert on presidential transitions. “At best, it’s naive and a little bit of a shell game.”
Public Citizen found in 2008 that President George W. Bush had appointed about 200 bundlers to administration posts over his eight years in office. That is roughly the same number Obama has appointed in a little more than two years, the iWatch News analysis showed.