President Obama has been granting highly personal access to major fundraisers, using golf – which in the past has been almost exclusively a recreational pursuit – to provide his money men with hours of presidential face time.
Obama’s self-created political persona is that of a man above traditional politics seeking to eradicate the influence of money. But the president is at least creating the appearance of access buying by granting top donors large slices of his valuable time.
Obama played golf on separate occasions in Martha’s Vineyard this month with two major “bundlers” – those who solicit donations from others – for his 2012 campaign. One, businessman Robert Wolf, assembled more than $500,000 from donors. Another, attorney Eunu Chun, was brought into Obama’s foursome after the round had already begun, resulting in Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest being booted off the course to make way for the guest of honor.
Last February, during Obama’s long-weekend golf excursion to Florida that featured a round with Tiger Woods, the president brought another half-million-plus bundler onto the links with him – Houston attorney Tony Chase.
Even more exclusive was the access granted DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, who raised millions for the president during the 2012 election cycle, including bundling efforts and $3 million donated to the pro-Obama PAC Priorities USA Action. Katzenberg and Obama sat down to a private dinner during an Obama visit earlier this month to Los Angeles. The Associated Press ranked Katzenberg third on the list of Obama’s “Top five fundraisers.”
Meanwhile, Obama has been appointing big time fundraisers and supporters to ambassadorships at a rate that, according to The Hill, exceeds even that of his two most recent predecessors. Among these are extraordinarily important postings, such as the ambassadorship to Great Britain, which went to megabundler Matthew Barzun, and the Japan post, handed to key Obama backer Caroline Kennedy.
Also, Obama tapped Penny Pritzker, another top Obama bundler who has written checks to his campaigns for more than a decade, to be Commerce Secretary, and bundlers Michael Froman to serve as U.S. Trade Reprsentative and Thomas Wheeler to head the FCC .