New details have emerged about a possible “pay-to-play” scheme that surfaced in the Democratic National Committee documents released by Wikileaks last week.
The Democratic National Committee’s national finance director sent a White House official who handles personnel matters a list of Democratic donors that the DNC hand-picked for appointments to federal boards and commissions.
The Daily Caller reported earlier this week that Jordan Kaplan, the DNC finance director, sought guidance from his colleagues on what donors to choose for federal appointments. Names were collected, and a spreadsheet entitled “Boards and Commissions” was created. (RELATED: Leakes DNC Documents Show Plans To Reward Big Donors With Federal Appointments)
Following up on that report, OpenSecrets, the blog of the Center for Responsive Politics, which monitors political spending, found an email from Kaplan to Amanda Moose, a special assistant to the President for presidential personnel, which appears to show coordination about the appointments between the DNC and the White House.
“For your review,” Kaplan wrote to Moose in an April 26 email which had the “Boards and Commissions — Final” spreadsheet attached.
[dcquiz] As TheDC reported, most of those included on the list are major Democratic party donors. Most have donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. None contributed to Bernie Sanders.
“That is unethical, if not illegal,” Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, told TheDC earlier this week of the apparent DNC quid pro quo.
One entry on one iteration of the DNC donor spreadsheet is telling as it suggests that one party donor expressed his desire to someone at the DNC about an appointment to the U. S. Postal Service’s board of governors.
Next to the name of Democratic donor David Shapira is the acronym “USPS.” The CEO of Giant Eagle, Inc., a supermarket chain, Shapira was nominated by Obama to the USPS board of governors last year. The pick was blocked by Congress, however.
TheDC emailed Kaplan asking whether Shapira specifically asked anyone at the DNC to be nominated again for the USPS position or if DNC officials assumed that he would want that position given his previous nomination.
The finance chief did not respond. DNC communications director Luis Miranda did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Other emails contained in the Wikileaks trove show that Kaplan and Moose likely discussed donor appointments over the phone.
Scott Comer, the DNC’s finance chief of staff, informed Kaplan on April 28 that he had missed a call from Moose. Kaplan asked for the number.
On May 3, Comer emailed Kaplan again saying that Moose wanted to set up a time “for a 20-minute conversation.”
In a comment to OpenSecrets, White House spokesman Eric Schultz denied that donors are given roles in the administration because of their political donations.
“Being a donor does not get you a role in this administration,” Schultz said, adding “nor does it preclude you from getting one.”
“We’ve said this for many years now and there’s nothing in the emails that have been released that contradicts that.”
The Obama administration has been accused of providing plush federal jobs — including appointments to federal boards and ambassadorships — for major Democratic and Obama donors.
As a presidential candidate in 2007, Obama specifically said that political patronage would be eradicated from his administration.
“The cynics and the lobbyists and the special interests have turned government into a game that only they can afford to play,” he said at the time. “They write the checks and you get stuck with the bills. They get the access when you get to write a letter. The time for that politics is over.”
As OpenSecrets notes, none of the donors picked by the DNC have been appointed to federal spots since Kaplan provided the spreadsheet to Moose.
Moose did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment.