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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Obama financial helpers obtain top positions


                     David Jacobson, right, now the ambassador to Canada, arranged meetings with bundlers. | AP Photo



Telecom executive Donald H. Gips raised a big bundle of cash to help finance his friend Barack Obama’s run for the presidency.
Gips, a vice president of Colorado-based Level 3 Communications, delivered more than $500,000 in contributions for the Obama war chest, while two other company executives collected at least $150,000 more.

After the election, Gips was put in charge of hiring in the Obama White House, helping to place loyalists and fundraisers in many key positions. Then, in mid-2009, Obama named him ambassador to South Africa. Meanwhile, Level 3 Communications, in which Gips retained stock, received millions of dollars of government stimulus contracts for broadband projects in six states — though Gips said he had been “completely unaware” that the company had received the contracts.
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.
The White House insisted its appointees are eminently qualified. “In filling these posts, the administration looks for the most qualified candidates who represent Americans from all walks of life,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. “Being a donor does not get you a job in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one.”
The iWatch News investigation found:
• 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 24 ambassador nominees who were bundlers raised $500,000.
• The big bundlers had broad access to the White House for meetings with top administration officials and glitzy social events. In all, campaign bundlers and their family members account for more than 3,000 White House meetings and visits. Half of them raised $200,000 or more.
• Some Obama bundlers have ties to companies that stand to gain financially from the president’s policy agenda, particularly in clean energy and telecommunications, and some already have done so. Level 3 Communications, for instance, snared $13.8 million in stimulus money.
The Obama administration has tightened restrictions on hiring lobbyists, but the deference shown major donors contradicts its claims to have changed business as usual in Washington.
“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.”


Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/56993.html#ixzz1PSokqsMT





Obama financial helpers obtain top positions 16 Jun 2011 

June 16, 2011 by legitgov


Nearly 80 percent of the top donors in Barack Obama's 2008 presidential election campaign have supposedly been given top paid jobs in the White House. An investigation, carried out by iWatch News, has claimed that around 80 percent of those who garnered more than $500,000 for Obama during his presidential election campaign have obtained key administration posts. The news site also found that other top donors enjoyed broad access to the White House for meetings with administration officials.


http://www.legitgov.org/Obama-financial-helpers-obtain-top-positions

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