Media expose Biden's ethically questionable White House meetings with major Democratic donors

By 
 July 9, 2024

President Joe Biden has long been accused by Republicans of corruptly selling access to his political influence and power in an effort to enrich himself and his family.

A surprisingly frank recent media report appears to suggest that Biden has also been selling access to the White House to major Democratic donors in exchange for substantial contributions to his re-election campaign, according to PJ Media.

The report comes amid an onslaught of deep concern about Biden's cognitive state and electability from Democratic donors, lawmakers, and pundits following his disastrous performance during the recent presidential debate against rival former President Donald Trump.

White House meetings with donors

Politico reported over the weekend that according to anonymous sources and federal records, President Biden has hosted small groups of major Democratic donors for intimate gatherings at the White House at least a dozen times between last summer and this spring, often just days or weeks before those same donors contributed huge sums of money to his re-election campaign.

Those meetings typically involved Biden giving a version of his stump speech about why he was running for another term and his agenda if re-elected but also included answering questions from his donor guests and reassuring them that he was up to the task of an additional four years in office.

In the days and weeks after those meetings, the attendees or their spouses, often extremely wealthy individuals from the entertainment and tech industries, would cut checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars -- in several instances the maximum allowed by law of $929,600 -- to the Biden Victory Fund, a joint fundraising effort between the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

"The optics on these things are very bad"

The outlet observed that of the 50 largest donations to the Biden Victory Fund, more than half came from individual donors who'd visited the White House just before, either for one of the small meetings, a holiday party, or even a formal State Dinner in some instances. Indeed, of the 16 individuals who gave max donations to the fund, at least 11 had visited the White House just a short time earlier.

Even as Politico exposed the intimate White House meetings with major donors, the outlet attempted to downplay their significance by asserting that virtually all modern-era presidents have similarly hosted gatherings of donors at the White House while campaigning for re-election -- though it was acknowledged that the donor meetings don't look good and that they have raised questions with ethics watchdogs.

"Certainly the optics on these things are very bad," Brendan Glavin, deputy research director at political money tracker OpenSecrets, told the outlet. "We’re talking about people giving nearly a million dollars and getting access to the White House. That’s the type of thing that really feeds and fuels citizens’ loss of faith in the system when they hear about things like this."

Not the first report on White House donor meetings

This actually isn't the first time that President Biden's meetings with major Democratic donors at the White House have been publicly revealed, as The Washington Post published a remarkably similar report in January and noted that they were used by Biden to obtain feedback from his financial supporters as much as they were to reassure those donors that he was capable of serving another four-year term in office.

Like the Politico report that came later, The Post also suggested the meetings were no big deal and something that all recent presidents have done over the past several decades. Both outlets also made it a point to note that the meetings were held in the residential areas of the White House and not in any of the building's official workspaces.

That is important because on the same day in January as The Post's report about the White House meetings with donors, Axios reported that Biden was warned by the White House Counsel's office that some of his initial practices during those meetings had crossed the line and raised ethical and legal issues.

Of particular concern were tours of the Oval Office and other workspaces that Biden had been giving to the donors. It was also noted that soliciting or receiving donations inside the White House, even in the residential areas, was strictly prohibited.

That is likely why both The Post and Politico emphasized in their articles that Biden never directly asked the donors for money and why those donors typically wrote their massive checks days or even weeks later after a White House visit.

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