Matt Lewis

Obama’s chief fundraiser attended White House meeting with Progress Kentucky leader

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

According to White House visitor log records, Obama’s chief fundraiser Matthew Barzun was among those in attendance at the Dec. 5 White House meeting that also included Shawn Reilly, the Kentucky politico who is accused of secretly bugging a campaign meeting held by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Longtime journalist and Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board member Keith Runyon was also there.

These facts, along with other emerging details, further undermine the narrative that Reilly and his colleagues were nothing more than quixotic rogues who got out over their skis.

Following the leak of sensitive audio from a private campaign meeting, Sen. Mitch McConnell decried the left’s “Nixonian” tactics — a line that might have been prescient. Just as Nixon’s team tried to dismiss Watergate as a ”third-rate burglary,” liberals sought to cast Reilly’s group, Progress Kentucky, as “the PAC that couldn’t shoot straight.

But whereas Washington Post reporters thoroughly dug into Watergate, doubting that the burglars acted alone, the media largely accepted the left’s narrative that Progress Kentucky was simply, “Kentucky’s least effective liberal group.” As Rush Limbaugh noted in Friday’s morning update, “The media started portraying the activists as total nobodies.”

Appearing on Fox News, DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse sought to distance his party from the group, telling Megyn Kelly he “never heard of” Progress Kentucky or Riley — an assertion that seems less plausible as more facts are known.

To its credit, BuzzFeed recently reported:

“The head of a group accused of illegally taping private meetings of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign visited the White House days before the group’s Twitter account began actively attacking the Kentucky Republican, according to White House visitors logs.”

Bumbling idiots and keystone cops don’t usually receive prestigious invitations. As a source close to the McConnell campaign told me, “You don’t just show up at the White House from Louisville — unless somebody wants you there.” Philip M. Bailey, WFPL’s political editor, echoed this sentiment on Twitter, noting: ”This all occurred before @ProgressKy was founded. But shows [Reilly] wasn’t a “nobody” in #Kentucky Democratic circles.”

Unfortunately for BuzzFeed, the timing of its report was terrible. Had the news broken on a different day, it might have driven a news cycle. Instead, the story was almost completely (and, in fairness, understandably) overshadowed by national news stories, including the Boston terror attack.

Something BuzzFeed didn’t report: According to the White House visitor log, Matthew Barzun (a “Louisville entrepreneur” who also happens to be Obama’s chief fundraiser) and Keith Runyon (retired, longtime Louisville Courier-Journal editorial page guy) were also in attendance. (You can tell they attended the same meeting because the meeting time is the same, the number of people in the group is the same, they all signed in under the same group number, and, most importantly, the room number for the meeting was the same.)