Obama donors score big in administration

posted at 12:45 pm on June 15, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Remember when Barack Obama promised to end business as usual in Washington as part of his “Hope and Change” platform?  Yeah, neither does he:

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.

Payoffs don’t come just in the form of government jobs.  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:

Passing over career diplomats in favor of megadonors amounts to “selling ambassadorships,” said Susan Johnson, president of the American Foreign Service Association.

Thomas Pickering, who served as ambassador to Russia and several other countries during a diplomatic career spanning four decades, said turning to bundlers adds a “new dimension” to what he termed “buying offices” through aggressive fundraising. “An individual can multiply their chances by going out and soliciting a lot of contributions other than just their own,” said Pickering, who chairs the American Academy of Diplomacy.

That’s nothing new, of course.  Presidents have long rewarded donors with diplomatic portfolios.  However, they usually didn’t run on the promise to end the influence of big money in the Beltway to get into the position of playing along with business as usual.  This will only surprise those who believed that a machine pol from Chicago who never bothered to challenge the status quo in the Windy City somehow had credibility as a reformer as a presidential candidate.

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and many fundraisers have shared in the spoils of victory.

So is there where all the TARP money went?

Tommy_G on June 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM

ROFL at all you crack smokin’ 52%’ers who bought that Hopey Changy bull and ate it for every meal.

Bishop on June 15, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Blah blah blah. Rush Limbaugh is selling tea now! Two if by Tea!

TheQuestion on June 15, 2011 at 12:49 PM

Pay for play anyone….?

Kuffar on June 15, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Kucinich and and Walter Jones are leading a bipartisan group of lawmakers suing Obama over Lybia: http://poorrichardsnews.com/post/6557372049/bipartisan-lawmakers-from-both-parties-sue-president

poorrichardsnews on June 15, 2011 at 12:55 PM

The most Transparently corrupt Administration evah.

Chip on June 15, 2011 at 12:56 PM

“I’m shocked…” Seldom has Captain Renault’s comment been so apropos.

Drained Brain on June 15, 2011 at 12:57 PM

“As a candidate, Obama spoke passionately about diminishing the clout of moneyed interests.”

I see a pattern here…

… Over the past three years, Obowma has done the exact opposite of what he says in public.

The next time he says he loves this country and will do everything in his power to defend it…

… it will be the time to panic.

Seven Percent Solution on June 15, 2011 at 12:59 PM

side note: it took W 8 years to do this and only 2 years for dear leader….

cmsinaz on June 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM

The Chicago Way.

Obama and the Machine looks at Obama’s long, deep and multifacted partnership with machine politicians in Chicago and Springfield.

Obama and the Favor Factory looks at Obama’s routine practice of trading favors with his political benefactors.

Those are from back in October 2008. Obama is still being Obama.

INC on June 15, 2011 at 1:02 PM

Barack Hussein Obama may be one of the worst President’s we have ever had to suffer… but he is one heckuva flim-flam man and he always pays his debts.

FlatFoot on June 15, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Ambassadorships for cash is wrong no matter who does it.

WitchDoctor on June 15, 2011 at 1:11 PM

about which Gips claimed he knew nothing at all

Interesting how some dems live up to their name:
Gips = gypping the contract bidding process
Wasserman = water carrier
Schultz = “schulst” to indoctrinate teach
Schumer = “schummle” to chisel, diddle or cheat
Weiner = …

I’m sure there’s more but it’ll be too depressing.

AH_C on June 15, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Doesn’t shock me at all, but I hope it’s revealing to those who bought into this guys crap.

He’s not the same old politician. He’s worse!

capejasmine on June 15, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Who knew.

the_nile on June 15, 2011 at 1:13 PM

President Bring this Sucker Down plays favorites?


PappyD61 on June 15, 2011 at 1:16 PM


odat on June 15, 2011 at 1:19 PM

They all do it but when this guy plays Santa Claus on our dime, it makes my skin crawl. We can not tolerate four more years of this. Having him in office for two terms will have a devastating effect on the economy and my blood pressure.

sherry on June 15, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Captain Renault Award® of the Day

MassVictim on June 15, 2011 at 1:35 PM

One big con game. Always was. Always will be, when it comes to Obama and his minions.

coldwarrior on June 15, 2011 at 1:49 PM

How is crap like that not illegal?

Murf76 on June 15, 2011 at 1:50 PM

What about ObamunistCare waivers? How many THOUSANDS of them are there now?

dogsoldier on June 15, 2011 at 2:14 PM

Whining about Ambassadorships going to donors is stupid, and you shouldn’t fall for it in the rush to criticize the administration. Employees of the Foreign Service (they actually call themselves “members”) have always tried to swindle the great unwashed (ie, us) into thinking there is something magical about being a career FSO and only they are qualified to be “Ambassadors”.

What a load.

They are just a bunch of guild wanna-be’s, like many federal employees, and think they are too special to be bossed around by mere citizens (like “presidential buddies”). Just the opposite is true, of course.

MTF on June 15, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Blago had been investigated, now on trial.

Obama, who had the whole media and libs/Dems backing him, still walks free.

Sir Napsalot on June 15, 2011 at 2:21 PM

He is a pathetic corruptocrat shameless political hack

Opposite Day on June 15, 2011 at 2:27 PM

No surprises here, unless you’ve got STUPID tattooed on your forehead – like most Obamabots. After all, it’s the Chicago Way.

GarandFan on June 15, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Remember when Barack Obama promised to end business as usual in Washington as part of his “Hope and Change” platform? Yeah, neither does he

lmao….yer on fire today Ed…!

Tim_CA on June 15, 2011 at 2:55 PM

30 comments or bust !!
Must be the sense of ‘so what’s new ?’

pambi on June 15, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Methinks this qualifies as a major Obamateurism!!

redfoxbluestate on June 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Considering that the State Dept. stopped representing the US long ago, I can’t get upset about ambassador positions not going to foreign service “professionals”.

Sigh, the the “great” tradition of patronage continues as it has since Pres. Andrew Jackson introduced it.

LarryD on June 15, 2011 at 4:53 PM