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Access to the Obama White House is in direct correlation to the amount of money donated to the president's reelection effort and the Democratic party, the New York Times reports today
The Times reports: "those who donated the most to Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party since he started running for president were far more likely to visit the White House than others. Among donors who gave $30,000 or less, about 20 percent visited the White House, according to a New York Times analysis that matched names in the visitor logs with donor records. But among those who donated $100,000 or more, the figure rises to about 75 percent. Approximately two-thirds of the president’s top fund-raisers in the 2008 campaign visited the White House at least once, some of them numerous times."
But the most explosive allegation in the news story comes from former Democratic congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kenney, who calls what the Obama White House is doing "quid pro quo."
Patrick J. Kennedy, the former representative from Rhode Island, who donated $35,800 to an Obama re-election fund last fall while seeking administration support for a nonprofit venture, said contributions were simply a part of “how this business works.”
“If you want to call it ‘quid pro quo,’ fine,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to make sure I do my part.”
Mr. Kennedy visited the White House several times to win support for One Mind for Research, his initiative to help develop new treatments for brain disorders. While his family name and connections are clearly influential, he said, he knows White House officials are busy. And as a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he said he was keenly aware of the political realities they face.
And Kennedy admits that folks in the White House are checking out the donor records:
“I know that they look at the reports,” he said, referring to records of campaign donations. “They’re my friends anyway, but it won’t hurt when I ask them for a favor if they don’t see me as a slouch.”
Translated, "quid pro quo" means "this for that." As in, if you want this from the Obama White House, then give that (e.g., cash).
Capitol Hill intoxicated-driving accident
On May 4, 2006, Kennedy crashed his automobile into a barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., at 2:45 a.m. A Capitol Police official said the congressman had appeared intoxicated when he crashed his car, but Kennedy claimed that he was merely disoriented from prescription medications Ambien and Phenergan.[dead link] Anonymous sources are alleged to have seen Kennedy drinking at the nearby Hawk & Dove bar prior to the accident. Kennedy also stated to officers that he was "late for a vote". However, the last vote of the night had occurred almost six hours earlier. The standard field sobriety test was not administered, and Kennedy was driven home by an officer.
On May 5, 2006, Kennedy admitted that he had an addiction to prescription medication and announced he would be re-admitting himself to a drug-rehabilitation facility at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where he has sought treatment for prior addictions. He has stated that he has no recollection of the car crash. On May 8, 2006, Kennedy got a show of support when he was endorsed by the Rhode Island Democratic Party. On June 5, 2006, Kennedy was released from drug rehabilitation.
On June 13, 2006, Kennedy made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of prescription drugs. He was sentenced to one-year probation and a fine of $350. Two of the three charges (reckless driving and failure to exhibit a driving permit) were dismissed. He was also ordered to attend a rehabilitation program that includes weekly urine tests, twice-weekly meetings with a probation officer, near-daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and a weekly meeting of recovering addicts.
On Friday, June 12, 2009, Kennedy again announced that he has "checked into a medical facility for treatment". In a statement to the press, Kennedy said that his recovery is a "lifelong process" and that he will do whatever it takes to preserve his health. "I have decided to temporarily step away from my normal routine to ensure that I am being as vigilant as possible in my recovery," Kennedy said.
In the wake of reports today that President Obama has used the White House both to grant access to special large donors and friends like Hilary Rosen, many media figures have suggested that this isn’t anything rare – it’s business as usual, and shouldn’t be considered out of bounds.
But there is one major politician who would disagree: Barack Obama, circa 1996.
When Obama was running for Illinois State Senate in 1996, he gave an interview to Joe Frolik of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In it, he called the Clinton campaign “disturbing to someone who cares about certain issues.” But he was most disturbed, he said, by the “realization that politics is a business … As oppose to a mission.”
The convention's for sale, right. You got these $10,000-a-plate dinners and Golden Circles Clubs. I think when the average voter looks at that, they rightly feel they're locked out of the process. They can't attend a $10,000 breakfast and they know that those who can are going to get the kind of access they can't imagine.