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Obama rewards donors with positions

Obama rewards donors with positions
If you want to work for President Barack Obama, enrolling in Secret Service school might not be the easiest way nowadays.

 It appears as if the commander in chief has put over three-quarters of the “mega donors” who forked over at least $500,000 a piece to his campaign on his payroll.

A report conducted by the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News found that around 80 percent of the people holding “key administration posts” under President Obama obtained mega donor status thanks to contributions they bundled for the president.

As individual contributions must be limited, “bundlers” can pool donations from other fundraisers and, as government watchdog Public Citizen puts it, can “play an enormous role in determining the success of political campaigns.” White House visitor records say that Obama met face-to-face with at least two dozen bundlers since becoming president. Around 200 of the biggest donors have been hired a little over half way through his term; 24 of those positions were ambassadorships.

And while President George W Bush also brought around the same number of bundlers on board, it took him eight years—four times what it took Obama—to get 200 donators on staff.

While this is nothing new in politics, President Obama himself campaigned on banning former lobbyists from taking roles in White House affairs. Now Donald Gips, a telecom exec who contributed over half a million to Obama when he ran, can say that he has had the role of Ambassador to South Africa and another Pennsylvania Avenue position on his resume, all since Obama entered office in 2009.

In response to the revelation, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, "In filling these posts, the administration looks for the most qualified candidates who represent Americans from all walks of life…Being a donor does not get you a job in this administration, nor does it preclude you from getting one.”

A reporter at Politico has noticed, however, that while less than one in five of the donors that contributed $50,000 to Obama’s campaign were rewarded with a position, half of those that gave $200,000—and 80 percent of the $500,000-plus club—were rewarded.

George Washington University law professor Spencer Overton donated over half a million to Obama, and a month after he took the oath of office, Barack bestowed an $180,000-a-year job on him.

“Clearly if someone raised a million dollars for your campaign, you tend to get a phone call returned,” says Michael Caplin, who helped raise $200,000 for Obama before he became a member of the Commission on President Scholar.

“If that person is truly excellent, but also raised money for your campaign, should that disallow you to serve? … I didn’t feel like they were putting coin collectors in charge of Homeland Security,” adds Caplin.

“I haven’t seen one appointment yet where I thought, ‘Man this is embarrassing.’”