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GOP lawmakers call for probe of donor perks

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Congressional Republicans called for an investigation into perks President Obama handed out to top Democratic donors following a report in The Washington Times that the party's money men got VIP access to the White House, private briefings from administration advisers, and invitations to important speeches and town-hall meetings.

"If the White House is trading access to official functions or titles for political contributions, it is not just tawdry, it is illegal," said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

Read the full story: EXCLUSIVE: Democratic donors rewarded with White House perks

"An investigation is certainly appropriate," he said.

Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said his 114-member group is launching its own fact-finding review of the rewards doled out to donors. The next move will depend on "to what degree and what perks are being offered," he said.

"The oversight role of Congress comes into play, and we ought to be practicing our oversight role very aggressively," Mr. Price said.

Check out the multimedia interactive: Bowling for dollars at the White House

"It is not surprising to find that with this administration, once again, what they say and what they do are two completely different things," he said. "So the most responsible, the most transparent, the most ethical, the most open, the most bipartisan -- all of those things are certainly not true."

Beyond the rewards offered to high-dollar fundraisers, internal Democratic National Committee documents obtained by The Times revealed that top fundraisers have been promised access to senior White House officials in exchange for pledges to donate $30,400 personally or to "bundle" $300,000 in contributions for others ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.

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Obama aides said there was not a systematic effort to turn the White House complex into a fundraising incentive, though they acknowledge the DNC paid for various events at the presidential mansion.

They said many White House guests are not only fundraisers and donors but longtime personal friends of Mr. Obama.


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