Patrick Kennedy offered some striking insight to The New York Times last weekend (emphasis mine):
Patrick J. Kennedy, the former representative from Rhode Island, who donated $35,800 to an Obama re-election fund last fall while seeking administration support for a nonprofit venture, said contributions were simply a part of “how this business works.”
“If you want to call it ‘quid pro quo,’ fine,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to make sure I do my part.”
Mr. Kennedy visited the White House several times to win support for One Mind for Research, his initiative to help develop new treatments for brain disorders. While his family name and connections are clearly influential, he said, he knows White House officials are busy. And as a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he said he was keenly aware of the political realities they face.
“I know that they look at the reports,” he said, referring to records of campaign donations. “They’re my friends anyway, but it won’t hurt when I ask them for a favor if they don’t see me as a slouch.”
“Quid pro quo” it is, then! That drew this comment from The Weekly Standard:
Access to the Obama White House is in direct correlation to the amount of money donated to the president’s reelection effort and the Democratic party, the New York Times reports today. …
But the most explosive allegation in the news story comes from former Democratic congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kenney [sic], who calls what the Obama White House is doing “quid pro quo.” …
And Kennedy admits that folks in the White House are checking out the donor records ….
Translated, “quid pro quo” means “this for that.” As in, if you want this from the Obama White House, then give that (e.g., cash).
The New York Times editorial board weighed in today, crediting Kennedy for his honesty:
The administration, of course, says there is no relationship between donations and access and notes that thousands of nondonors regularly visit the White House. But a more realistic appraisal of events was given by Patrick Kennedy, the former representative from Rhode Island, who also gave the maximum amount while pressing the administration to support his nonprofit medical venture. That’s “how this business works,” Mr. Kennedy, who had several visits to the White House, told The Times. “If you want to call it ‘quid pro quo,’ fine,” he added. …
The candidate who truly wants to impress voters would put an end to special-access retreats for big donors and would promise not to check a donation list when granting White House access. Mr. Obama, in particular, promised in 2008 to fix a “broken” public financing system that allows oversize donations. He opted out of the system, and the country is still waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.