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Reporters to Jay Carney: Is an Obama-supporting organization selling access to the president? Carney: I don't know, you'll have to ask them

By Doug Powers  •  February 25, 2013 10:54 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Late last week, the New York Times reported that Organizing for Action is basically selling access to President Obama for a cool half million:

Unlike a presidential campaign, Organizing for Action has been set up as a tax-exempt “social welfare group.” That means it is not bound by federal contribution limits, laws that bar White House officials from soliciting contributions, or the stringent reporting requirements for campaigns. In their place, the new group will self-regulate.
Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House. Moreover, the new cash demands on Mr. Obama’s top donors and bundlers come as many of them are angling for appointments to administration jobs or ambassadorships.

At Monday’s press conference, WH spokesman Jay Carney, after reading a prepared statement addressing the NY Times story, said OFA is an independent organization (sure looks like it), repeatedly directed all questions to OFA, and then couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. Carney offered up the information with all the ease of your run-of-the-mill novocaine-free tooth extraction:

“This has been true in prior administrations.” Yet again, the administration that bills itself as maintaining unprecedented and historic levels of ethical standards and transparency goes with the “everybody else did it too” defense. Even Chuck Todd isn’t buying it in full.

Sorry Jay, but if an “independent” organization is out there telling people their $500,000 donation will get them personal access to the president, and the White House doesn’t loudly object and deny (or even say the NYT has their facts wrong), then it’s not an “independent” organization.

Kelsey Osterman thought of an excuse that Carney’s probably kicking himself for not using at the press conference: “I personally know three Organizing for Actions.”

Make sure to watch the closing seconds of Carney’s presser in the above video. Here’s a brief re-enactment:

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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