Should the White House be Used for Meetings of DNC Operatives?

Posted: May 13, 2011 12:01 AM

The White House visitor logs reveal a lot of things. For example, there are a heckuva lot of people that like to bowl at the White House lanes. Also, Richard Trumka had an Oval Office meeting with the president on October 4th, two days after the unions’ “One Nation Working Together” event. Who knew a representative of the middle class was such a “high roller,” as my grandfather used to say.

The logs also reveal three “POTUS” meetings with Organizing for America, the community organizing arm of the Democratic National Committee. OFA of course had previously been Obama for America, the president’s campaign committee.

Two of the meetings are listed as “OFA TAPING” in the logs. Several new media and video people are listed as participants.

A DC Insider with White House experience told me this is not unusual. My source said it’s often easier to bring film crews into the White House complex, as opposed to having the president go to them. While I don’t think the White House should be used for such purposes, it makes sense from a logistical and security perspective, I suppose.

But a December 15 meeting, listed as “OFA VOLUNTEER MEETING” caught my eye.

The day after, Politico reported that it was a meeting between the president and party volunteers to essentially survey the carnage following the November election.

“President Obama will meet at the White House today with seven Organizing for America volunteers for what's billed as a ‘Report to the President’ on the midterms,” DNC spokeswoman Lynda Tran told POLITICO.

The Politico article (innocently) gives the impression that this was a group of lowly citizens giving their feedback to their dear leader.

It was anything but.

According to the logs, 8 OFA/DNC professional operatives were at the meeting. They were Lucas Fleischer, “DNC Creative Director;” William Gordon, “DNC Online Tools Manager;” David Grossman, a “Rapid Response Video Producer;” Tiina Knuutila, “Senior Video Producer for the New Media Team at DNC/OFA;” Jessica Livoti, “Online Activist Manager, OFA/DNC;” Matthew Lubin, “Media Administrator, DNC;” Reed Petty, “DNC Media Center Director;” and Brad Schenck, a “Region Field Director” for Organizing for America.

No names of common-folk volunteers could be found.

According to the logs, the “caller” or point person was Tara Corrigan, executive assistant to then-Political Director Patrick Gaspard. Gaspard has since left to be the Executive Director of the DNC.

Does it matter that the supposed OFA “volunteers” were actually operatives for a political party, or that inaccurate details were given to Politico?

Is this just one of those unspoken-yet-routine occurrences? The same DC insider told me the White House is not used for this purpose.

While this doesn’t rise to the level of Bill Clinton’s coffees, overnights and other fundraising activities in the White House, it should give cause for concern that the White House is being used for inappropriate political party events.

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