White House hosts hundreds of meetings with Fortune 100 CEOs

© Kevin Lamarqu
The White House is open for business, according to a new investigative report by Reuters. The Obama administration said “‘Yes, we can meet with you” almost 1,000 times to Fortune 100 CEOs since 2009.

Records reviewed by Reuters found that the president was present for about half of the meetings, ranging from intimate Oval Office gatherings to lavish state dinners.

Obama is the first US president to make public the White House visitor logs.

Reuters contacted the companies whose CEOs were among the top 30 White House visitors, but many declined to comment.

Some said their chiefs were involved with advisory councils on jobs, trade, and manufacturing, while noting that CEOs often discuss the same issues with lawmakers from both parties in the US Congress.

The logs show CEOs from large manufacturing and industrial companies have commanded the most meetings at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a change from the early days of Obama’s presidency when visits by bankers and health insurance executives dominated their appointment diary.

IBM executives hold the record for the most invitations to state dinners during the Obama administration. CEO Virginia Rometty was present at a September dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping and at the March 2012 dinner for UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Her predecessor CEO Sam Palmisano was at the June 2011 dinner for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Only a special few landed coveted one-on-one meetings in the Oval Office with the president, including the most frequent visitor David Cote, CEO of the military contractor Honeywell.

Cote donated $47,295 to Obama’s 2008 campaign, even though he’s a Republican, and his company Honeywell was America’s top political donor in the country that year with $3.34 million. In return, it gets billions from the Pentagon to make components like TPE-331 engines for MQ-9 Reapers, the “workhorse” of the US drone program.

U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a roundtable with CEOs to discuss efforts to tackle climate change both in the United States as well as on a global scale at the White House in Washington © Kevin Lamarque

The logs also reveal Obama met with CEOs in the famous Situation Room, the same place he and Hillary Clinton watched Navy Seals assassinate a man they claim is Osama bin Laden.

Billionaires Warren Buffett from Berkshire Hathaway and Jamie Dimon from JPMorgan Chase met in the president’s inner sanctum twice each.

And what a difference an election makes. Halliburton CEO David Lesar has never been to the White House during Obama's tenure, even though he had an inside man during the previous administration because the person Lesar replaced as CEO, Dick Cheney, went on to become George W Bush’s vice president.

The logs help connect the dots between corporate interests and the president’s landmark policies like Obamacare and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

"We are not their advocates unless there is an alignment of interest," Valerie Jarrett, Obama's longest-serving senior adviser who runs his Office of Public Engagement, told Reuters.