WH Political Director Attended DNC Fundraiser at Firm That Represents Foreign Governments

DNC worried about fundraiser at lobbying firm featuring White House political director

President Obama And David Simas - Washington
President Barack Obama and David Simas / AP
July 26, 2016

President Obama’s White House political director attended a Democratic National Committee fundraiser held in June at a lobbying firm that represents foreign governments.

According to an email chain contained within the latest batch of 20,000 hacked emails released by Wikileaks, DNC staffers fretted over holding a fundraiser in celebration of Immigrant Heritage Month at the D.C.-based lobbying firm Hogan Lovells. The fundraiser featured David Simas, the White House political director, and Amy Dacey, the CEO of the DNC.

On May 15, Ali Chalupa, a DNC staffer, sent an email to the vetting team asking them to look into the venue.

"Hi Vet Team, we would like to do a finance event at Hogan Lovells US LLP … on June 14th with White House Political Advisor David Simas and DNC CEO Amy Dacey," Chalupa wrote in an email. "Can you let us know if this venue passes vet? Thanks!"

One day later, Alan Reed, the DNC’s compliance director, responded to the request by saying that he saw "no real issues." Reed wanted to make sure everyone was fine with using the venue given the "significant lobbying" that they perform.

Attached to the email was the background check for the firm, which noted, "Hogan Lovells lobbies the federal government on behalf of a number of U.S. groups and organizations." It contained a list of departments the firm lobbies, which included the House and the Senate along with the Departments of Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State, and Interior, among others.

The event was given the go-ahead.

After Reed asked if there were any objections with going forward with the fundraiser, Bobby Schmuck, a White House representative, responded saying, "We’re fine, I’ll flag it for him."

The background check said Hogan Lovells did not appear in the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Unit (FARA).

However, the firm does appear on the FARA database and is currently registered to work on behalf of both the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia and the government of Japan in 2016, FARA disclosures show.

The invitation to the fundraiser posted on the DNC’s website, which was held on the rooftop of Hogan Lovells on June 14, asked for donations between $50 and $5,000 and made no mention of White House political director David Simas as being a featured guest. The only person listed for the fundraiser was DNC CEO Amy Dacey.

David Simas did appear at the event, according to pictures posted to Instagram.

In addition to the fundraiser held on behalf of the DNC, one lobbyist who works for Hogan Lovells has gathered together $50,000 in bundled lobbyist contributions for Hillary for America. A handful of lobbyist bundlers who have collected millions for Clinton’s campaign are tied to foreign banks and governments.

The DNC did not return a request for comment on the fundraiser by press time.