Behind the Money

Politico’s Mike Allen writes up an email from the Obama campaign, cataloging a raft of October fundraisers that trade access for cash.

Give $500, and get a private reception with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. Give $10,000 and you can have dinner with Tony Lake, Dennis Ross and Dan Shapiro, three members of Obama’s Israel/Palestine brain trust. With $28,500 to spare, you could chat with either Warren Buffett or Robert Rubin, who help shaped Obama’s response to the financial crisis.

Allen quotes “an admiring”—but anonymous—“Republican official” describing the fundraisers as “Very unusual. Creative.”

But I’m not sure they are that unusual, and that’s kinda the point. For all the emphasis that the Obama campaign places on its extraordinary small donor fundraising, they still rely on the old big-check and bundler routine that rewards wealthy and connected machers with unusual access.

Of course, a lot of people think that system is a problem. Even so, through this very expensive campaign, pieces that put vital background to Obama’s fundraising rhetoric, like Allen’s, have been rare. I noted a good Washington Post take in April, but otherwise, cataloging this take-and-give hasn’t been much of a political press focus. And no matter who wins the White House, that oughta change.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.