Image: Obama
Gerald Herbert  /  AP
"Contributing does not guarantee a ticket to the White House, nor does it prohibit the contributor from visiting," says Dan Pfeiffer, the White House's deputy communications director.
updated 10/28/2009 2:40:50 PM ET 2009-10-28T18:40:50

President Barack Obama has rewarded top Democratic donors with perks ranging from holiday visits to the White House to policy briefings, carrying on a practice of past presidents despite his promise to change how Washington works, a report published Wednesday shows.

At least 39 Democratic donors and fundraisers attended a White House reception on St. Patrick's Day, and festivities held at the White House for Cinco de Mayo and Independence Day were financed at least in part by the Democratic National Committee, The Washington Times reported. Democratic National Committee documents it obtained showed the party promising top fundraisers who pledged to donate or raise certain amounts access to senior White House officials.

Obama invited fundraiser Robert Wolf to play golf with him during the Obama family's August vacation at Martha's Vineyard. Wolf is chief executive of the UBS Group for the Americas and was appointed to Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Also in August, Obama nominated fundraiser Alan Solomont as ambassador to Spain.

Donors have also been invited to meetings with administration officials. For example, this summer, Obama deputy chief of staff Jim Messina went to Los Angeles and San Francisco to brief top donors on the administration's national health care overhaul, the Times reported.

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama promised to change the way things are done in Washington. But the donor rewards provided in Obama's first months in office carry on a time-honored Democratic and Republican practice of giving special treats to top fundraisers and donors, such as appointments to ambassadorships and boards and invitations to policy briefings and holiday parties.

A White House spokesman said many White House guests were longtime Obama family friends in addition to their fundraising connections, and, that given the millions of people who donated to Obama's campaign, it wasn't surprising that some visited the White House.

"Contributing does not guarantee a ticket to the White House, nor does it prohibit the contributor from visiting," Dan Pfeiffer, the White House's deputy communications director, told the Times.

Pfeiffer said Obama has put tough ethical standards in place to reduce special-interest influence over policymaking.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments