President Obama's ban on lobbyist contributions has not prevented lobbyists and other representatives of special interests from visiting the White House frequently, a New York Times review of public documents reveals.
"Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits," Mike McIntire and Michael Luo report in the paper's April 15 edition.
The Times's study revealed a direct relationship between the amount a donor has contributed to President Obama and the number of times that donor has visited the White House.
"Among donors who gave $30,000 or less, about 20 percent visited the White House, according to a New York Times analysis that matched names in the visitor logs with donor records," write McIntire and Luo. "But among those who donated $100,000 or more, the figure rises to about 75 percent."
The husband of Democratic attorney Antoinette C. Bush, the stepdaughter of Vernon Jordan and a close friend of Obama courtier Valerie Jarrett, contributed $35,800 to Obama's campaign on the very day that Bush escorted an entertainment industry lobbyist to the White House for meetings, the Times reports.
Bush has visited the White House "at least nine times" during Obama's term, according to the Times.
Bush and her husband Dwight held a fundraiser for Obama at their home last November that cost $17,900 a plate.
The business website of Los Angeles consultant and Obama donor Kerman Maddox features pictures of Maddox with the president, first lady, and L.A. Mayor and Democratic National Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa.
Maddox's access to the White House is one reason the L.A. County transit authority hired him in the spring of 2011, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Richard Leahy told the Times.
Maddox contributed $16,000 to the president's reelection efforts in the weeks after signing the transit contract.
Maddox and his clients visited the White House that August.
Patrick J. Kennedy, who retired from the House of Representatives in 2010, donated more than $35,000 to Obama in the hopes of winning government support for his nonprofit. Such donations are "how this business works," he told the Times.
Kennedy did not mince words: "If you want to call it ‘quid pro quo,’ fine. At the end of the day, I want to make sure I do my part."