'Transparent' White House Bans Media Coverage at Fundraisers

Image: 'Transparent' White House Bans Media Coverage at Fundraisers President Barack Obama's limousine, right, sits in front of a private residence where he was speaking at a fundraiser on July 22 in Seattle. (Larry Downing/Reuters/Landov)

Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 07:45 AM

By Elliot Jager

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White House reporters are furious that they were barred from several recent presidential fundraisers, Politico reported.

The White House Correspondents' Association criticized President Barack Obama for excluding reporters when he addressed a Senate Majority PAC fundraiser on Tuesday at the Seattle home of Jim Sinegal, the former Costco CEO. Attendees contributed a minimum of $25,000.

On Wednesday, the president was at the Four Seasons hotel in San Francisco meeting House Majority PAC donors – and again frustrated reporters were kept outside. The press was also barred from covering the president's remarks to donors in New York last Thursday.

Earlier this week, coverage was limited when the president welcomed the Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins along with Carol Armstrong, widow of Neil Armstrong, to the Oval Office to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the moon landing.

Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times/Chicago Tribune White House correspondent, who recently took over as president of the association, told Politico, "We think these fundraisers ought to be open to at least some scrutiny, because the president's participation in them is fundamentally public in nature."

She added that denying access to the president was of "special concern as these events and the donors they attract become more influential in the political process," Politico reported.

Details about who the president recently met, how much they donate and what Obama said to them have been kept secret, Politico said.

At a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser Wednesday afternoon in Silicon Valley, reporters were ushered out just as the president began taking questions from contributors.

Responding to complaints, White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said, "I would only ask that you judge us by our record and the record of our predecessors. Without a doubt, I think we've done more to achieve the president's commitment to transparency than any previous administration."

Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, which wants to "eliminate the undue influence of big money in American politics," said the president "talked a big game when he was running for office in 2008 about fixing this system. And he hasn't done anything about it – and continues to stay silent at a time when the system is a disaster for the American people," Politico reported.

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