Judicial Watch • Obama Political Advisers Get Personal Drivers

Obama Political Advisers Get Personal Drivers

Obama Political Advisers Get Personal Drivers

MAY 12, 2010

 

While President Obama assures Americans that his White House is the “people’s house,” he covertly gives political advisors taxpayer-funded personal drivers traditionally reserved for cabinet members and national security officials.

Not surprisingly, the White House and Secret Service refuse to comment on the matter, which was brought to light this week by a reputable political news site. The president, vice president, cabinet members and their deputies, national security adviser and White House chief of staff automatically get personal drivers to ferry them around town and transport them to work.

The president has the discretion to assign a small number of top aides that can receive the publicly funded V.I.P. service, which is regarded as a sign of prestige around the capitol. Obama has quietly expanded the very small group of aides that get the perk and he prefers to keep it undercover despite promises of unprecedented transparency in his administration.

Among them is the president’s longtime close friend Valerie Jarrett, who conducts outreach to the business sector as assistant for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison. Obama and Jarrett, who was his “Olympic Czar,” are so tight that he refers to her as a “sibling.” Before joining the administration Jarrett was involved in a series of real estate scandals, including several housing projects operated by convicted felon and Obama fundraiser/friend Antoin “Tony” Rezko. Judicial Watch obtained public records documenting Jarrett’s role in the scandal.

Besides getting a personal military driver to chauffer her around town and to and from work, Jarrett also gets Secret Service protection, which is unheard of for her position. The Secret Service acknowledges in the news report that Jarrett is a “protectee” but refuses to elaborate on why exactly she requires such a high level of security.

David Axelrod, another Obama close pal and adviser, also gets Secret Service protection as well as the luxurious perk of being picked up at home and chauffeured to work or around town in a government vehicle. The “chief strategist” of Obama’s presidential campaign, Axelrod also runs a side business (ASK Public Strategies) in Chicago that plots strategy and ad campaigns to tilt public opinion in favor of corporate clients.

Recent presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, did not offer such advisers regular door-to-door military transportation like Obama. Clinton granted the privilege for a brief, two-month period to an unknown aide and Bush never provided it to his advisors, including Karl Rove who was the equivalent of Axelrod in that White House. That sounds a lot more like the people’s house.

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