Though President Barack Obama called super PACs a “threat to democracy” before embracing them last February in his own reelection effort, he and members of his inner circle had no trouble meeting with the kind of people who contribute to them. At least 16 individuals who gave money to some of the major outside spending groups had meetings with White House officials–including Obama himself.
The group of 16 includes major Democratic donors, bundlers for Obama’s campaign and a few individuals who have official roles in the administration. Some have frequent access to both the president and his inner circle, visitor logs released by the White House show. Six of them have given to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC started by former White House officials that’s supporting the president’s reelection effort, while others have given to groups working to elect congressional Democrats.
As the money race continues in the 2012 election, big donors, fundraisers and friends of Obama are steering money to super PACs. An analysis of White House visitor logs shows the names there intersect with those on lists of contributors to major Democratic super PACs–including Priorities USA Action; Women Vote!, a super PAC working to elect Democratic women to the House and Senate; the House Majority PAC and the Majority PAC, which are focusing on supporting Democrats for the House and Senate, respectively; and American Bridge 21st Century, which was established in November 2011.
One Massachusetts couple is a case in point. Reinier Beeuwkes III, president of the pharmaceutical company, Ischemix, and his wife Nancy, a retired nurse, are longtime Democratic donors and fundraisers–in the current election cycle, they’ve contributed a total of $259,300 to federal candidates and the Democratic Party. The Beeuwkes attended a White House reception with President Obama on Dec. 16, 2010, White House visitor records show.
In October 2011, the Beeuwkes, along with a few other major Obama donors, co-hosted a fundraiser that, according to the invitation, offered “an engaging briefing to discuss the critical elements of independent political progressive infrastructure that will be required to assure Democratic victories in 2012,” and featured David Brock, founder of the American Bridge 21st Century super PAC, as a speaker. That month, the Beeuwkes made the first of some $475,000 in contributions to six major Democratic super PACs, including a $100,000 check sent to Priorities USA Action on February 27, 2012, a few weeks after Obama changed his position on the vehicles. They weren’t alone–Michael Thornton, who was also listed as a co-host of the super PAC fundraiser, made his second $25,000 contribution to American Bridge; altogether, he’s given the group $100,000.
Read More at sunlightfoundation.com . By Anupama Narayanswamy.
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