White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs addressed President Obama’s charges against the Chamber of Commerce today. An excerpt appears below but there were other questions on the topic. There were also questions about the President’s practice of appearing at about 50 “closed” fundraisers.
Q Lastly, as somebody — there are a lot of us here who have covered the President’s campaign and now his White House, and a lot of times you guys are subject to accusations that are baseless and grounded in no more than, “Well, it could be true; make them prove that it’s not true.” And that seems to be the argument you’re making towards the Chamber of Commerce when it comes to these foreign donations — it could be true; have them prove that it’s not true. Don’t you think that the President — there should be a higher bar for when the President levels or suggests or insinuates a charge?
MR. GIBBS: Well, Jake, what I would do is go back and look at what the President has said directly on this. The President —
Q Very careful with his language, absolutely. But the suggestion is it could be true; they should open their books.
MR. GIBBS: Well, Jake, the — as we covered in this morning’s briefing, or gaggle, that I get asked questions and others around this town get asked questions about people that have donated to the campaigns that you mentioned that you follow because people that give in excess of $200 are required to report who they are and who they work for. Simple disclosure.
We know that — we know, because the Chamber has said, that they take money from overseas. We do know that they’re spending $75 million to $80 million on ad campaigns — with anonymous donors. They know the identities, but the American people and the voters in these individual elections do not.
The best way to clear any of this stuff up would simply be to disclose the names, the identities of those donors. That goes for groups on any side of the political spectrum. When you have, in the case of this election — there are outside groups on the Republican side that are largely supplanting the role of the national party, certainly to the extent to which they are participating as an active entity in this election. And no one knows where that money is coming from.
This is an important election. And those groups owe it to the American people to tell us who they are, to describe based on that identity what their agenda is, why are they so heavily involved in these races.
It seems like a fairly simple thing to do. The President talked about this as early this year as the State of the Union. And we tried desperately to get a law passed that would require those identities to be disclosed.