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Steele calls for investigation of donor perks

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Republican National Committee on Wednesday called on the White House to immediately release the names of donors who have been granted meetings with the president or his senior aides, or access to the White House for use of such amenities as the basketball court, the movie theater, or either of two bowling alleys in the complex.

The RNC statement came in response to a report in The Washington Times showing that President Obama has rewarded scores of top Democratic donors with VIP access to the White House, private briefings with administration advisers, and invitations to important speeches and town-hall meetings.

One element of the report drew particular concern from critics -- internal documents obtained by The Times that showed the Democratic National Committee offered high-dollar fundraisers access to senior White House officials in exchange for pledges to donate $30,400 personally or to bundle $300,000 in contributions ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.

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

"The seriousness of this issue requires an immediate investigation looking into the degree and details of fundraising efforts between the White House and DNC, whether there was any quid pro quo offered to donors, and the names of White House officials who were involved in such activities," a statement from RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele said.

Mr. Steele also called on the White House to release the names of donors who have been granted special perks.

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

Since taking office, Mr. Obama has pledged that his administration will be "the most open and transparent administration in history" and has agreed to make public the names of those who sign into White House visitor logs, though a request from The Times for logs that show visits from his top 45 bundlers has gone unfilled so far.

Requests for guest lists to various White House events, such as a recent cocktail reception surrounding the celebration of the Pittsburgh Penguins' National Hockey League Stanley Cup victory or the Latin music concert last week, also have been denied repeatedly.

Related TWT article: GOP lawmakers call for donor-perks probe

The White House also has not released the names of guests at other festive events at the White House, such as parties thrown to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and July Fourth, which administration officials confirmed were underwritten in part or in full by the DNC.

The White House should "immediately release the names of donors who have accessed these perks or received special briefings from administration officials," Mr. Steele said. "Candidate Obama pledged to clean up the muddy waters of Washington, but President Obama has jumped in head first.