Through its first nine months in office, the Obama administration frequently consulted with leaders of the business and financial communities they were saving from the brink of collapse, according to a review of White House visitor log records released on Wednesday.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue visited the White House on ten different occasions, an administration aide confirms. He met twice with the president, twice with his chief economic consultant, Larry Summers and three times with Obama's business liaison, Valerie Jarrett. In the past few months, the Chamber has found itself embroiled in a bitter fight with the administration on health care policy and regulatory reform, which may explain why none of the visits have occurred since June.
Donohue wasn't the only frequent invitee from the business world. John J. Castellani, president of The Business Roundtable, was also a visitor at the White House on seven different occasions. Twice he came as an audience member for a business council speech. Once he was there for a meeting with the White House's chief health care adviser, Nancy-Ann DeParle. Once he met in the East Room with the president.
Edward Yingling, the president of the American Bankers Association, visited the White House on six occasions --five of which have been previously reported. Often the visits were to discuss issues of bank and credit card policy as well as the housing market. Some of these meetings were formal discussions with other business tycoons. On one occasion Yingling did meet with the president himself, according to a review of White House visitor log records released on Wednesday.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan visited the administration on six different occasions, twice to talk with OMB Director Peter Orszag and once to meet with Summers (as has been previously reported). As noted during the last release of White House visitor logs, CEOs of banks that received billions in taxpayer-funded bailouts also were granted an audience with the administration. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein made three visits, and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon stopped by six times.
Business wasn't the only topic that brought visitors to the White House. Health care reform was another big draw. Billy Tauzin, the CEO of the pharmaceutical lobby PhRMA, stopped by the White House eleven times -- for both formal bill signings, a town hall meeting, and gathering with high-ranking staff. Once Tauzin met with the president himself. Karen Ignagni, the president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, came to the White House on eight occasions, usually for meetings with high-ranking officials. As the Associated Press reports, the heads of Kaiser Health Plans, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, the American Hospital Association as well as several major health care industry lobbyists, were also White House visitors.
All told, between January 20 and the end of August, the AP reports, lobbyists, strategists and others with a stake in health care reform made 575 visits to the White House.
Labor leaders also were frequent guests. The Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern was a visitor on 22 different occasions, as previously reported. George Soros, a major donor to progressive causes, stopped by the White House on four occasions.
On Wednesday afternoon, the administration released a second wave of visitor logs documenting who visited the White House between January 20 and the end of August. The information, which includes over 1,600 records, came in response to over 300 requests from the public during the month of October. There are, as in the previous visitor log release, false positive identifications -- people who happen to share a name with someone more famous. In addition to those listed above, the following individuals were noticed on the logs.
*Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City visited four times.
*Mayor Cory Booker of Newark visited three times.
* CNN's Wolf Blitzer visited three times.
* Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) made five visits, two for formal receptions, one with the president, one with Jarrett and one with Political Director Patrick Gaspard.
* Prominent progressive blogger Markos Moulitsas also visited the White House, an administration official confirms.