More than 60 of President Barack Obama’s most generous financial supporters visited the White House more than once for meetings with top advisers, holiday parties or state dinners, according to The Associated Press. At least 250 contributors and fundraisers have visited the White House at least once.
The invitations are a legal and established practice, but come despite Obama’s past criticism of pay-for-access privileges. They also mark an about-face for the president from earlier in his term in office, when donors said they were being kept at arm’s length, the Associated Press reported.
Top donors to the super PAC supporting Obama, like Chicago investment manager John W. Rogers Jr. and Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, gave more than $150,000 combined to Priorities USA Action, according to finance reports, and also made repeated trips to the White House, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier this month, the White House extended invitations to more than 30 of the president's top fundraisers to an elaborate dinner, where they mingled with celebrities and dined with foreign leaders on the South Lawn of the White House.
The administration counters that it has released roughly 2.1 million visitor records, and that donors and fundraisers should not be barred just because they support the president. "Folks from all walks of life visit the White House," White House spokesman Eric Schultz wrote in an e-mail statement. "In fact, being a supporter of the President does not make you eligible for a visit to the White House, nor does it preclude you from one.”