Obama has Averaged more than One Fundraiser a Week Since he became President

Monday, April 21, 2014
President Obama at a fundraiser (photo: Scout Tufankjian, Obama for America)

You’d think that since President Barack Obama has run in his final political race, he’d work harder on policy issues and relax a bit, instead of raising money for the next campaign. You’d be wrong. Obama is spending more time than ever on the rubber-chicken circuit.


According to statistics compiled by Mark Knoller of CBS News, Obama has attended 373 fundraisers during the 1,900+ days since he’s been in office, which averages to almost one every five days. An investigation last year by The Guardian showed that Obama had attended 30 fundraisers in the seven-month period between April and November, even though he is not personally up for reelection. That’s way ahead of the pace set by George W. Bush or Bill Clinton in their second terms.


Part of the reason for all the glad-handing is the change in the way political campaigns are financed. More money is coming into campaigns from organizations such as those funded by the right-wing Koch brothers. One way to even the playing field is for Obama to persuade donors that it’s worth a five- or six-figure check to eat dinner in the same room as the President. “The large donors care more about who solicits them than where the money is going,” Lawrence Noble, a former lawyer for the Federal Election Commission who is now with The Campaign Legal Center, told the National Journal. “As far as they're concerned, they're giving it because the president or the candidate is asking them.”


The McCutcheon decision by the Supreme Court that did away with some contribution limits gives big donors an even larger role in campaigns. An analysis by the Sunlight Foundation found that about 600 donors hit the limit in the 2012 cycle, but with some estimates putting the limit to giving now at $3.5 million per donor per party, more wealth can be spread around.


“We’re putting our presidential candidates in the position of putting out their hands for $1 million donations,” said the Sunlight Foundation’s Lisa Rosenberg. “At best, it’s unseemly. At worst, it’s corrupting.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Obama’s Real Job: Fundraiser in Chief (by James Oliphant, National Journal)

Revealed: Obama’s Record-Breaking Effort To Tap Wealthy Donors For Cash (by Dan Roberts and Kenton Powell, The Guardian)

Who’s Counting? At the White House, It’s Mark Knoller (by Shane Harris, Washingtonian)


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