Obama Rewards Big Campaign Donors: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 6/15/2011

Jun 15, 2011 3:25pm

BRUCE:  A new study by the Center for Public Integrity found that nearly 200 of the president's donors landed plum government jobs and advisory posts, won millions of dollars in federal contracts for their businesses and attended elite White House meetings.  Do you have any response?

      CARNEY:  Well, I would simply say that this administration looks for the most qualified candidates who represent Americans from all walks of life when it makes appointments.  The administration also has across the board the toughest ethics standards in history, including a bold commitment to transparency, which I have discussed frequently from here.

Now the people we have appointed – the president has appointed to key positions all have sterling academic credentials, years of public service and private sector experience that make them eminently qualified for the positions to which they were appointed. 

      And I would make the point here that having enacted these ethical high ethical standards, the highest in history, and having pursued and delivered on a level of transparency that is unprecedented, it is important to note that being a supporter does not qualify you for a job or guarantee you a job, but it does not disqualify you, obviously.

      So we stand by all of our appointments.  We believe they are enormously qualified for the jobs that they hold.

      BRUCE:  And how does that square with what the president said in his Presidential announcement speech in 2007?  He said, quote, "The cynics and the lobbyists and the special interests" have "turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.  They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills.  They get the access while you get to write a letter.”  He said, “the time for that politics is over.” 

   CARNEY:  Well, right.  We were talking about — you asked me about supporters of the president who may have been donors who have gotten positions.  And I would point out to the fact that those – the people who got those positions got them because of their credentials. They also happen to be donors in some cases. 

      There are obviously numerous and far more – far many more cases of people who weren't donors who were appointed to jobs.  And that's a lot different from the problem that exists in Washington, and existed in Washington, with special interests having lobbying success here in terms of the effect that has on legislation that's produced in Congress and signed into law.

      So – and we have been incredibly aggressive in that.  I mean, we are – again, you – it is important to remember the kinds of transparency – the kind of transparency we have made a regular practice here, including releasing the – (inaudible) – logs, that is something that was never done before in terms of visitors to the White House, and the other measures we've took – taken in terms of the - what you can and cannot do in the wake of serving in this administration in terms of lobbying and that sort of thing.  So we believe that we've taken important measures that qualify the praise that this administration has gotten for its high ethical standards. And we stand by that.



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