Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday stressed that sizable contributions to the president's 2008 campaign did not guarantee those donors a visit to the White House.
Responding to an article in The Washington Times this morning -- which charged the White House was offering special perks to top Democratic donors -- Gibbs cast doubt on the story and insisted the president had implemented the "toughest ethics and transparency rules of any administration in history."
The press secretary also reminded reporters that the White House would soon begin releasing the names of all visitors who enter the White House on a daily basis -- a move the president had announced this summer.
"As the statement we issued said, contributing doesn't guarantee a visit to the White House," Gibbs said during Wednesday's press briefing, noting "hundreds of thousands of people have visited this White House" since the president was inaugurated.
"We're the first administration in history [to offer] a list of each and every person who visits the White House -- something that has never been done before," Gibbs added.
It is not uncommon for presidents to invite supporters to the White House, but The Washington Times charged Wednesday that the Obama administration had offered special access to big donors in an effort to encourage them to support Democrats again in 2010. The White House has since disputed that charge, insisted the Democratic National Committee does not take donations from registered lobbyists and emphasized most of the president's contributions in 2008 were actually small donations, not large, bundled sums.
Gibbs also touted the president's previous order to release details of most White House visits -- a practice that begins this December. According to the press secretary, those records will be available on a three-month time delay, and they will include information about who visited, when they visited, how long they stayed and some degree of information about why they came.
"What the president campaigned on -- toughening our ethics rules, making more transparency policy -- was something he was passionate about, and he's proud of the progress we've made in ensuring that," Gibbs stressed.