Sept. 23, 2011
Anyone who keeps up with political news knows about political fund-raisers. A candidate stops in for dinner and chit-chat at a millionaire’s home and talks the talk with dozens or hundreds of other millionaires, who in turn bestow the candidate with financial contributions along with a not-so-secret nod-nod wink-wink that his or her victory will ensure the accrual of more millions for the donor.
Let’s face it: If you were a millionaire, this could be fun. And if you were into political donations the way some people are into real estate investments or the stock market, it could be a lot of fun.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for those with fortunes), that’s the state of American politics today. And the millionaires are the least of it, really – the Citizens United ruling has even blurred the definition of what constitutes “people” and opened the door to more corporate and foreign influence over U.S. elections than at any time in American history.
But how often does someone with no dough to cough up find a way to get a seat at one of these high-level meet-and-eats? The Punditty Project does not have a definitive answer to that question, but it does know how Joe and Jane Average can have dinner and chew the fat with President Obama.
The Obama campaign has been using Twitter to engage supporters who are interested in a roundtrip, all expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., (or another location in the U.S. where the president happens to be visiting) for a sit down for dinner with President Obama and three other supporters. The official rules make it clear from the beginning that you don’t need to bring a fat wallet or plump purse with you in order to eat:
“NO PURCHASE, PAYMENT, OR FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS PROMOTION.” NOTE: all caps and bold italics also appear on the official rules page. We later learn, in smaller type but just as important, that “(e)ntering via the contribution method will not increase your chances of winning the prize.”
So you don’t have to be a fat cat, or even a cheap donor trying to skate by on five bucks. You just a have to be lucky duck with something to say. According to the campaign’s website: “(a)ll you need to bring are your stories and ideas for this campaign and our country — we'll cover your airfare and the meal.”
The date can’t be predetermined, of course (“Tell Sarkozy I can’t make it on the 19th…Ned from Milwaukee is going to be here that night and we need to discuss my plan for a college football playoff.”) But if you’re patient enough to wait for the White House to make arrangements that can fit you into the president’s schedule, then this is the contest for you.
The Obama campaign estimates the approximate retail value of the entire Trip package to be $1,050.00.
There is one other condition of entry that bears mentioning here:
“We are not asking for, and will not accept in connection with this solicitation, donations in any amount from registered federal lobbyists, registered foreign agents, federal political action committees, or minors under the age of 16. Contributions in any amount from corporations, labor organizations, national banks, federal contractors, and foreign nationals are prohibited.”
Punditty lauds the president and his campaign for making this particular stipulation. And unlike former Mass. Gov., when the president says “people,” he understands that this means real flesh and blood, not corporations or their wholly owned subsidiaries.
ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO DINE WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA
To enter without donating: http://www.barackobama.com/page/dinner-w
To enter and donate to the Obama 2012 re-election campaign: https://donate.barackobama.com/page/cont
President Obama’s Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/#!/BarackObama
Mitt Romney says “Corporations are people” at Iowa State Fair, Washington Post, Aug. 11, 2011
Obama Campaign Offering “Dinner With Barack” For $5, ABC News blog by Eliza, June 16, 2011 NOTE: It is unclear whether entrants in this earlier version of “Dinner With Barack” contest had to contribute at least $5, but judging from this report and similar reports on the Web, that was the case.
How Citizens United Increases Foreign Influence Over American Politics, BlogforArizona.com, April 11, 2011
Sotomayor Issues Challenge to a Century of Corporate Law, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 17, 2009
President-elect Obama makes another play for college football playoff, ESPN, Nov. 15, 2008
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