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

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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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.)

Additionally, as BuzzFeed reported, Reilly “appears to have been signed in by Victoria McCullough, a staff assistant to Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett.” McCullough signed in Barzun, too.

The visit seems to have proven fruitful. As BuzzFeed noted, just “eight days after Reilly’s meeting with the White House, Progress Kentucky tweeted: ‘The single most important thing we want to achieve: Electing a new US Senator to represent Kentucky,’ which started a daily barrage of often more than a dozen tweets and retweets directly aimed at McConnell.”

The White House visit is telling, but it’s merely one of several clues that Shawn Reilly was anything but some rogue, novice operative.

As the above picture (tweeted by Reilly and broadcast on CNN) demonstrates, Reilly was a delegate to the DNC Convention in Charlotte.

This means he was rubbing elbows with — as the Courier-Journal described it — “pretty much every major Democratic Party office-holder in the state.”

There are other indications that Reilly was well-connected in Kentucky politics. For example, consider this tweet:

The handle “alisonforsos” is for Alison Lundergan Grimes for Secretary of State. Progress Kentucky has been urging her to challenge McConnell. Reilly has tweeted about meeting Grimes. She follows him on Twitter, and has retweeted him in the past. What is more, Grimes, incidentally, was conspicuous as a prominent Kentucky Democrat for not denouncing the Progress Kentucky tweets about Elaine Chao’s ethnicity. Chao is McConnell’s wife.

These are all easily discoverable connections the mainstream political press never bothered to uncover or just completely ignored. Just as the media blackout over Gosnell revealed, selection bias — deciding which stories aren’t worth investigating or highlighting — is perhaps the most insidious form of media bias.

As Limbaugh concluded in his Friday morning update: “It’s time to ask, who knew? What did they know? When did they know it? How high up did this operation go?”