Obama spent nearly $700,000 for stage, lights in Berlin

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama paid a German company nearly $700,000 for staging, sound and lighting services at the time he delivered a speech this past summer in Berlin and declared himself a “citizen” of both the U.S. and the world.

Billed as a highlight of Mr. Obama’s July trip to Europe, the speech — delivered before hundreds of thousands of people in front of the historic Victory Column in Tiergarten — was organized by the Berlin-based company Mediapool, opening much like a rock concert, with warm-up performances from the band Reamonn and reggae singer Patrice.

The German company, whose Web page says it specializes in theater and event management, is listed as a disbursement recipient on Mr. Obama’s most recent campaign expenditures report, filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

The company prominently displays pictures of the Obama speech and rally on its marketing pages and lists the event at the top of its projects page.

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The company was paid $667,082 by the Obama campaign in three disbursements in July and August, according to the FEC records. The campaign also paid $9,018 to the limousine service Bero Berlin, the records show.

The disclosures come at a time of giant campaign budgets and massive spending by both Democrats and Republicans.

Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin’s maverick image as a moose-hunting “hockey mom” took a hit with disclosures that the Republican National Committee had spent $75,062 at high-end department store Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis and $41,850 in St. Louis in early September on her wardrobe, along with $4,100 for makeup and hair consulting. About one-third of the Alaska governor’s purchased clothes have since been returned.

At the time of the wardrobe disclosures, Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro noted that neither the campaign nor the Democratic National Committee had paid for the wardrobes of Michelle or Barack Obama.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said it “should come as no surprise” that the events Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have participated in over the past two years cost a lot of money to produce.

“But given that the executive editor of The Washington Times attacked our campaign this morning with talking points ripped from our opponent’s playbook, we doubt that it will investigate the hundreds of thousands of dollars the McCain campaign spent on fair complexes, opera houses, clubs, aquariums and casinos around the country,” he said.

Mr. LaBolt’s comments were in response to a statement Friday by Executive Editor John Solomon after The Times was kicked off Mr. Obama’s press plane in the final days of the election.

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