Senior White House adviser David Plouffe is the only member of President Barack Obama’s administration to attend a fundraiser for a pro-Obama super PAC so far, despite an announcement in February that White House officials and Cabinet members would participate.
Plouffe, who ran Obama’s 2008 campaign, is a natural pick to make the pitch for Priorities USA Action, the super PAC started by former White House aides Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney. But, according to an administration source, no other officials have hit the road in the past five months to help the super PAC drum up the millions needed to counter a fundraising onslaught from those aiding presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Obama reluctantly embraced the super PAC in February, even though he and most Democrats want to outlaw the groups. But even then, the embrace came with a host of caveats that suggested the president remains uncomfortable with the idea.
Campaign manager Jim Messina announced the policy then. “With so much at stake, we can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm,” Messina said in February. “What this change means practically: Senior campaign officials as well as some White House and Cabinet officials will attend and speak at Priorities USA fundraising events.”
The administration declined to comment on the record, but an administration official said there has been no reconsideration of the policy announced in February and it still stands.
And the Obama campaign made clear that it still fully supports the political action committee.
“We have been crystal clear in expressing our support for Priorities USA Action and its mission: re-electing the President,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “Campaign and White House officials have participated in and will continue to participate in their events across the country.”
In addition to Plouffe, Messina and senior campaign strategist David Axelrod have attended super PAC fundraisers, including events in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C.
And while other officials could yet be deployed in the quest for cash, the president himself will remain a no-show.
The day after the policy was announced, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced a barrage of questions about the president’s awkward embrace of the super PAC.
A clearly uncomfortable Carney emphasized what administration officials — and the president — would not do. The officials would appear only at fundraising events of groups that disclose their donors, Carney said, and would not directly ask for money, even though they would be attending and speaking at the events.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.