May 12th, 2012
08:32 AM ET

Letters to the President #1209: 'Pay to play'

Reporter's Note: I write a lot of letters to the president.

Dear Mr. President,

After your big dinner with George Clooney this week, and some of Mitt Romney’s fundraising activities, I find myself once again pondering the state of campaign fundraising. To wit: How can either one of you keep talking about how much you understand working folks, want to be in touch with us, and represent us, while you are simultaneously locking yourself away in a room full of fat cats who pay to spend time with you?

Seems to me that anyone who wants to be President ought to send a clear message that he or she is going to be a leader for all Americans, and the first step should be making all events...except those that involve the direct security of the United States…public events.
I can’t imagine all these multi-thousand dollar a plate dinners would ruined if TV cameras were allowed to sit in the corner and record the action live for the rest of the nation. I promise we would not spill anyone’s soup. And if you and Mr. Romney really think allowing the rest of us to see what you are up to with your big donors is a problem…well, doesn’t that just suggest something shady is going on?

Some of your supporters used to come practically unhinged over the idea that President Bush met with business leaders in private where the public could not monitor what was said. (Especially if it was oil people!) I know some Republicans were apoplectic whenever you chatted with health care folks in private.

So why don’t you reach out to Romney and bring some of that transparency to the table that you both say you prize so much? Go ahead and raise your money, but like I said, make every single fundraising event from now until the election a public one. If nothing else it will help reduce the impression that you are both allowing the rich, famous, and influential to buy access to you that the rest of us can’t afford. And no, a few stunts in which the two of you eat hamburgers with three or four ‘regular’ folks does not solve the problem.

If not…well, maybe then presidents, Democratic and Republican, should just go ahead and charge admission to the Oval Office.

“I’m here to see the president.”
“That’ll be $40,000. Cash or credit?”

Not trying to be a troublemaker, but come on…if you and Romney are not saying things with the fat cats you don’t want us to hear, then why don’t you fling the doors open and invite the rest of America in to grab a plate?


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