President Obama and top White House aides are waging a behind-the-scenes push to win over skeptical big-dollar donors — whose early money is needed to help fund a dramatic summertime expansion of his battleground-state machinery.
Campaign officials are working to broaden Obama’s network of “bundlers,” the well-connected rainmakers tasked with soliciting big checks from wealthy donors, while seeking to preserve the aura of a grass-roots movement by luring back the kind of small Internet donations that helped shatter fundraising records four years ago.
To do so, Obama and his aides are leveraging every asset available to a sitting president — from access to top West Wing officials to a possible food tasting with the White House chef.
Much of the fundraising in recent weeks has occurred at targeted events designed to appeal to specific groups, many of which have expressed frustration with administration policies, including Jews, gays and business leaders. Obama has attended 28 fundraisers from coast to coast — a pace that could continue, or even accelerate, over the next several months.
If you really want to know who’s running this administration, then follow the money.
That second paragraph is carefully worded – it’s not really a lie. Obama really does want to preserve the aura of a grassroots movement – but it’s one that never existed. Small donors may have “helped” him shatter fundraising records in 2008 but it was the big donors that made the difference.
Real Clear Politics:
President Obama appealed to supporters and donors in a videotaped message emailed by his campaign team to millions of people Monday — a message filmed with the president inside the White House by a crew from the Democratic National Committee, according to a White House official who responded to RCP questions about the solicitation.
In the video, Obama tells supporters they can join him and Vice President Joe Biden for dinner if they win a contest offered by his campaign. “We’re both really looking forward to it. Hope to see you soon,” Obama says on camera. The script was written by the DNC.
The president’s video is accompanied by a donor solicitation form in which supporters of the administration can check boxes donating from $5 to $700 to the Obama-Biden re-election effort. This may, or may not, constitute fundraising by a federal employee in a federal office building, a practice that is generally prohibited. Even if it is fundraising, the statutory barriers regarding the White House itself are vague.
In response to questions about whether the president and his political team had stayed safely on the legal side of the relevant statutes, White House officials made three arguments. First, they said, an open process for small donors to essentially win a raffle is not the kind of fundraising prohibited under the law — and the president didn’t make a direct appeal for donations, anyway. Second, they pointed to a longstanding advisory opinion from the Justice Department that differentiates between the residence portion of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — where the aide said Obama had been filmed — and official rooms in the White House. Third, they said, Obama’s approach is in keeping with the practices of his predecessors.
“If the President does it, it’s not illegal.”