Obama’s White House Meeting With Wall Street Execs: Official or Political?

By Dschabner

Jun 21, 2011 11:01pm

ABC News’ Mary Bruce reports:

With campaign fundraising in full swing, President Obama is under fire for hosting a DNC-sponsored meeting with key Wall Street supporters at the White House. Today, two former Bush administration lawyers questioned the meeting, saying it exemplifies the fine line between official and political events.

On March 7, the president met with Wall Street executives, some of whom are campaign contributors, in the Blue Room of the White House, according to the New York Times, which suggested that the DNC organized the event to reach out to donors.

“If it’s an official capacity meeting … the DNC should not be organizing the meeting. The White House should be organizing the meeting. If the DNC is setting up the meeting, that is a political meeting,” Richard Painter, former associate White House counsel to President George W. Bush, testified today before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Painter did, however, admit that he did not know all of the facts about the meeting and was hearing “conflicting views” about whether it was of a political or official nature.

“One can look at that as political activity if you look at the circumstances and note that the DNC committee coordinated that event and issued the invitation for it,” Scott Coffina, also a former Bush White House counsel, said at the hearing.

“You get into this very fine line that’s difficult to draw. It looks like the content was official but, certainly the population of attendees and probably the purpose of it was partisan political,” he added.

The White House has adamantly defended the meeting, which was not on the president’s public schedule that day, insisting that it was not a fundraiser and that it’s “totally precedented” for the president to have a DNC-organized meeting at the White House.

“Having a DNC- or RNC-sponsored event is extremely common for presidents of both parties, going back many administrations,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Friday.

“It is wholly understandable why the president would want to consult with business executives about their ideas about, you know, what to do in terms of economic policy and business policy going forward, including financial sector policy … and the fact that they're supporters, obviously, he would want to talk to his supporters about that, as well,” he said.

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