Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Paying to See the President: Update

The Democratic National Committee is rejecting the contribution of a California car salesman and electric car advocate who was forking over $32,400 out of his retirement savings to attend a private fundraiser Friday on the promise that he would get at least two minutes to lobby President Obama.

In rejecting his bid to attend the luncheon, the DNC expressed reservations about the media attention that has gone to Paul Scott, a self-described $50,000-a-year Nissan car salesman in Los Angeles, and the notion of paying for access. Scott's intentions were reported last Friday night by USA TODAY. Scott said he wanted to give the president some advice about better ways to advance the electric-car movement. Scott, 60, says he felt so strongly about the issue that he was going to dip into his savings so he could make the pitch face-to-face.

In a letter dated Saturday, DNC National Finance Director Jordan Kaplan says Obama shares a devotion to clean energy and promotion of electric cars, but that the committee had concerns. Contributors, says the letter obtained by USA TODAY, are supporting the president and Democratic candidates, not using off-the-record events "as a way to gain access." The letter noted "the media attention your contribution has garnered."
Jim Motavelli writes:
“The story got spun by the right into a ‘pay-for-play’ narrative, and I became a liability,” said Scott, who is nevertheless still very supportive of both Obama and the DNC. “The whole thing was twisted by the conservatives, who claimed that Obama was doing something wrong by talking to me at the event.”
Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin’s headline was “Electric Car Advocate pays $16K a Minute to Personally Ask Obama to Push Carbon Tax.” There are a few other pieces like that, but this hasn’t become a radioactive story in the red-state blogosphere, at least not yet. It may be that the DNC’s decision to return the donation will give it some lift.
We’ve all gotten fundraising appeals like the one sent to Scott, we just usually hurl them into the circular file. “I got an email three or four weeks ago saying that Obama was coming to L.A. and for $10,000 I could have lunch with him,” Scott told me. “For $16,200 I’d get lunch and a photo. But for $32,400, I’d get lunch, a photo, and a chance to sit in on a roundtable discussion with the president, limited to 25 people. It was off the record, but we could talk about anything we wanted. I stared at the computer screen. The money was a big part of my retirement fund.”