Book: Obama Attended Super PAC Fundraiser, Violating 2012 Campaign Pledge

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Francois G. Durand / Getty Images

Updated on Nov. 4 at 8:44 p.m.

Four days after his dismal Denver presidential debate performance, Barack Obama secretly attended a fundraiser for a super PAC in violation of a campaign pledge to avoid such events, according to the authors of a new book, Double Down: Game Change 2012.

The Oct. 7 event, at Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Beverly Hills house, involved nine other tycoons and former President Bill Clinton, and it helped secure three checks for $1 million, according to the new book’s authors, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.  Just eight months earlier, Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina had promised Obama supporters in a blog post that “the President, Vice President, and First Lady will not be a part” of the campaign’s efforts to support SuperPacs.

The event was billed as a thank you event for donors to the President’s campaign. “As was widely reported at the time, President Clinton joined President Obama at a thank you event for supporters,” said Eric Shultz, a White House spokesman, on Monday afternoon.

The appearance was legal, according to the book authors, since Obama did not make a direct appeal for money, but the revelation further blurs the already cloudy lines that divided campaign fundraising and outside spending in the 2012 campaign.

The 2010 Supreme Court ruling that gave birth to the current era of super PACs was anchored in a simple idea: Outside groups that spent money to influence elections could not coordinate with campaigns and candidates, limiting the risk of official quid pro quo, the exchange of campaign cash for government favors. In the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy, “[I]ndependent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

But the legal definition of coordination was drawn so narrowly by the Federal Election Commission as to appear almost meaningless throughout much of the campaign. The main super PAC supporting Republican Candidate Mitt Romney, called Restore Our Future, was organized by three former advisers to Romney’s 2008 campaign, under the direction of two people who would lead the 2012 effort.

Halperin and Heilemann report that the Restore began in 2009, even before the Supreme Court ruling, as a project called “Avatar.” The 2008 Romney Campaign Manager, Beth Myers, who would become a senior advisor to the 2012 effort, worked with Matt Rhoades, the 2012 campaign manager, to recruit the leaders of the group. At one point, Rhoades told the recruits, “You’re part of the Romney family,” the book reports.

The two teams ceased all communication 120 days before the super PAC began running ads, as required by federal regulators. But Romney still appeared at several Restore Our Future events where money was raised; aides said Romney did not explicitly ask for money.

During the heat of the campaign, when Restore was running sometimes inaccurate ads against Romney’s Republican primary opponents, the candidate tried to distance himself from their effort. “Super PACs have to be entirely separate from candidates or a campaign,” Romney said in a Dec. 20 appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “If we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house.”

Romney also said in that appearance that it would be “illegal” for him to tell Restore to stop advertising with inaccurate messages. While Romney was barred from communicating privately with the group, there are no legal restrictions on him publically denouncing the group’s efforts, something he declined to do during the most contentious days of the campaign.

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The original post has been updated with a comment from a White House spokesman.

20 comments
Libtards-UNITE
Libtards-UNITE

For our simple little friend drudown

Lies from our President

1) “If we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do.  I will get our troops home, we will end this war.  You can take that to the bank.” 

2) Obama promised to “eliminate entirely” income tax for seniors making less than $50,000.

3) “My father served in World War II” 

4) "The only involvement I had with Acorn was doing some stuff with the justice department"

5) "I will cut the deficit in half"

6)  "If you like the healthcare plan you have, you can keep it"

7) “We got back Every Dime we Used to Rescue the Banks with Interest”

8) "No more illegal wiretapping of American Citizens"

My fingers are tired, so I will stop for now.

lelandwi11iams
lelandwi11iams

Amazing...a new first...negative article about our Liar in Chief.  But soon the focus turned to Romney...TIME MAG is Democrat Party Bathroom Tissue material

DougCheriBledsoe
DougCheriBledsoe

Take a walk on the wild side."

And the colored girls go
"Doo do doo do doo do do doo..."

DougCheriBledsoe
DougCheriBledsoe

so many lies nobody even notices anymore. boy did he snooker us.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"...the revelation further blurs the already cloudy lines that divided campaign fundraising and outside spending in the 2012 campaign."

Hahahahahahaha. More shock and outrage from the Church of Savvy. Corporations are people, Michael, or hadn't you heard?

tommyudo
tommyudo

Michal Scherer, TIME's resident concern troll. No one cares Michael, since there are so many other issues that you members of the MSM are either ignoring, or just doing very sloppy reporting.

hangooker
hangooker

Okay, so Obama lied.  What's new?  The real shock would be finding out that something he said during the campaign is true.

drudown
drudown

Gee, what a shock.

Yet another hearsay allegation of malfeasance placed into the stream of public view as the Congress steadily rolls forwards to the next "fabricated" fiscal crisis, paralyzed by the corruption of super-PAC money via its refusal to honor the EXPRESS language of the Constitution itself based on some perverse notion "partisan ideology" somehow "supersedes" the rule of law. 

The notion that the filibuster device is not eliminated so that our system of democracy can move forward is the greatest injustice of all.

"Useless laws weaken the necessary ones." - Montesquieu

jmac
jmac

Super Pacs rule.  Got a problem with Super Pacs?   Tell it to the Supreme  Court.  

Got a problem with disclosure of just who's funding the Super Pac?  Tell it to the Supreme Court.   Don't bother with Congress -  Republican's nixed disclosure. 

jmac
jmac

@lelandwi11iams It's not a negative article about Obama.  It's about Super Pacs.  Neither Obama nor Romney did anything illegal.  

Anonymous money to Pacs that can sway an election is a dangerous path for America to be on.  Republicans should be just as concerned as Democrats - yet Republicans wouldn't vote for the Disclose Act.  It failed by one vote.  It's the conservative Supreme Court that gave us this ruling and it's up to Congress to change it.   If you're a Republican, you should be asking yourself why Republicans don't want to report who is funding campaigns.  Why are they hiding their donors?   It's also ironic that the Tea Party Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson just might make Republicans wish they had voted for disclosure  as they go after Republicans who could actually win in the general elections.  

One thing it does show is just how naive the conservatives on the Supreme Court are.  Kennedy's statement is ridiculous.   Either naive - or playing a dangerous game of politics. 

drudown
drudown

@reallife 

Your inability to respond to the merits shall be deemed an admission of my assertions' unequivocal veracity. If you need assistance to do so, please enlist the appropriate proxy or advocate. Otherwise, your failure to address the merits will constitute an admission that no such "partisan discretion" to avoid Faithfully Executing the Law exists and, as such, the omission to follow Article I, Section 8's revenue-raising requirements for the Common Defense and People's General Welfare constitutes a violation of Federal Law.

drudown
drudown

@bryanfred1 @drudown

In other news, the Tea Party DENIES the very existence of Climate Change frequently dispensing the falsehood that the last decade has been "cooler" when all empirical evidence clearly proves otherwise. 

Say…you think the "government is the problem" has "anything to do" with the foreseeable regulation needed to implement the necessary and proper changes to Energy policy and just as "the terrorist boogeyman" purportedly operates as the "justification" to VIOLATE the Bill of Rights and the plain meaning of the 4th Amendment? 

Sorry, the "insult" is the Tea Party overtly trying to "abolish" this Nation's history of precedent and then purporting to "invoke" the Founding Fathers as its agendas go in the opposite direction. How can you credibly deny that is a factually accurate statement?


Alas, the "fiscal crisis" merely caused by the GOP House's failure to promulgate a Budget with tax increases via some perverse and unlawful abatement.

Oh, and as a preemptive measure, my dear Koch Brothers’ sock puppet posters, spare me the “insults” only to ultimately cop out of a policy debate with the old "I'm
insulted" bit. 

"I'm sorry…I'm sorry." - Otto, 'A Fish Called Wanda'

As desertification from Climate Change dries up land from Florida to Rwanda.

One doesn’t need a “conspiracy theory” to know Science is being overtly subverted- that is, not so subtly, and these “exaggerated threats” are miniscule to the breaches of law and proper procedure with the alleged Hastert Rule.

Read: the Federal government cannot "unilaterally suspend" the necessary and proper
REVENUE raised via TAXATION required by the Several States to ensure Due
Process to the People as our precedent requires. 


It is NECESSARY for Police/Fire and functioning schools.


Anyone that can read knows Article I, Section 8 plainly says so, GOP liars. 

The writing is already on the wall. There is no need to believe the Tea Party leaves.

The "new" GOP pronounces Federalism no better than a code for thieves.

By way of example, the GOP Congress cannot credibly tell the states what their doctors can prescribe their patients- that is clearly a Health, Safety and Morals issue reserved to the Police Power reserved to the Several States via the 10th Amendment. It is axiomatic that CONGRESS CANNOT COERCE THE STATES TO RESTRICT CIVIL LIBERTIES AND THAT INCLUDES THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO PRIVACY via such
"indirect" means. There is no "Compelling State Interest" behind "getting prescription medication off the streets" justifying such a SUBVERSION of our Founding Fathers' system of Concurrent Jurisdiction, i.e., Federalism.

Oh, dear (once mighty) media? Gerrymandering is Unconstitutional as well. I suppose the Fairness Act "killed" any semblance of realism?

The Constitution is STILL the Supreme Law of the Land last time anyone checked. 

How is the “law no longer the law”…just because the GOP lobbyists seek to wreak havoc on Diplomacy and our People’s prosperity through its “no new taxes,” treasonous saw?

(enter buzzzzzzzzzzzzz)

Of course, now these “paid for” Tea Party puppets (the artist formerly known as the fiscally prudent Republicans) claim (what else) the very New Deal "entitlements" our
progenitors fought and died for is, what, subject to arbitrary cuts? How is that not a "deprivation" of life, liberty or property? [see, Davidson v. Cannon (1986) 474 U.S. 344] 

Start following the law. Quit acting like our Stare Decisis is some “optional” path or fleeting wish.

“If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” – Bible Matthew 15:14

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

@drudown What are you even talking about?  The merits of your rant?  Fine - the continuing financial crises are due to intractability on both sides of the aisle.  To say "I won't negotiate" and then expect the other party to is childing and idiotic.  Corruption of super-PAC money?  Do you not see the irony of such a statement given this article - you know, what we're commenting on, is about OBAMAhelping to raise those kinds of funds?  Dems are every bit as beholden to their fundraiser.  Your opinion of the filibuster?  Opinion, not fact.

So now back to the subject at hand - Obama said he wound't then he did support raising super-PAC money.  I assume by YOUR silence you're stipulating to this fact.

drudown
drudown

@bryanfred1 @drudown 

Enough of your hearsay allegations of "what Obama said" blah blah blah. That is unsubstantiated baloney and a diversion tactic. Shall I list the ACTUAL lies from his GOP predecessor?

"Iraq will be a cakewalk" - Rumsfeld 

"The Iraq war will pay for itself with the oil revenues" - Wolfowitz 

"Deficits don't matter" - Cheney 

"Saddam H. possesses biological and chemical weapons" - Ari Fleischer 

Either address the merits or it is stipulated that what I write is deemed right and true. 

What's a matter, too chicken to match wits? Or are you afraid of a substantive debate because there is no defending the indefensible? I fancy.

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

@drudown The merits?  How about the central point of the article.  Obama said he would not support super Pac fundraising efforts.  He then goes to a super Pac fundraiser where $3 million is raised.  Now just because he didn't verbally request the money or hand the donor the pen to write the check doesn't mean he wasn't supporting its activities.  Change the subject all you like, or downplay the importance of our President's word apparently not being worth much, but don't deny he didn't go back on it.