It’s another dirty not-so-secret in Washington circles: donate to the charity or foundation of a member of Congress or the president, and it helps your chances to meet them.
Hint: It’s nearly 40 percent of the time (15 of the 39 named donors were invited).
A few more highlights from the report:
- Four of these people were first invited to small meetings with President Obama at the White House following their foundation donations.
- Nearly three-quarters of the contributors disclosed have been invited to the White House for events with the President
- … including every donor family or foundation who has contributed more than $100,000.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said, “Donating in support of the president’s foundation does not guarantee you a meeting with the President of the United States…it also doesn’t prevent you from getting a meeting with the president of the United States.”
According to reports, President Obama and his supporters hope to raise $800 million for the foundation.
It’s important to note that using the prestige White House to thank donors isn’t new. While Bill Clinton was president, his administration came under fire for inviting 75 Democratic contributors to spend the night in the White House. (More than 30 of those same donors have donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign or super PACs since 2013).
In 2010, the New York Times found that corporations donated millions of dollars annually to Congressional charities, especially when issues the businesses cared about were in front of Congress or would be in the near future.
None of this is illegal, but it contributes to Americans’ distrust of government. A new AP-GfK poll found that almost 8 in 10 say they were angry or dissatisfied with how the federal government works.
Stories like this don’t help.