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Money, Access, And The White House46:01
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Barack Obama was a controversial pathbreaker in putting big private money in campaign politics.  Now he’s doing it in the White House.  We investigate.

The White House in Washington is seen on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. (AP)
The White House in Washington is seen on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. (AP)

Swanky dinner digs in Washington last night, as President Obama met with a “Founders Summit” of the new group launched to battle around the country for his second term priorities.

It’s raising big money – private money – to fight conservatives like Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers and more over the national agenda. To fight fire with fire.

But critics say it’s unprecedented and dangerous for a sitting president to put high rollers in such a close, cash embrace of the White House. That it tempts corruption at the very top.

This hour, On Point: money politics and the presidency.
-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Philip Rucker, White House correspondent for the Washington Post. (@philiprucker)

Fred Wertheimer, founder and President of Democracy 21, which advocates for transparency in government and campaign finance reform. (@fredwertheimer)

Tad Devine, Democratic strategist. President of Devine Mulvey, a Democratic media consulting firm. He was a senior adviser in Al Gore’s 2000 and John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaigns. (@taddevine)

From Tom's Reading List

CNN "The dinner including the president comes amid criticism that the group, which is registered as a non-profit, social-welfare organization, plans to grant special access to the president for top OFA donors–a claim that Jim Messina, who steered the 2012 re-election campaign and is now the new group's national chairman, has attempted to rebuke."

The Hill "Organizing for Action has given up corporate cash, but watchdog groups won’t be satisfied until the pro-Obama nonprofit is shut down for good.  The lobbying group, which was built from the remnants of President Obama’s reelection machine, has come under intense pressure from good-government advocates who say it’s ripe for corruption."

USA Today "The non-profit advocacy group created to lobby for President Obama's second-term agenda announced Thursday that it will not accept any corporate money, reversing course after blistering accusations that it was selling White House access to donors."

This program aired on March 14, 2013.

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