After publicly chastising radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday, President Obama continues to send administration officials out to raise money for Priorities USA – the so-called “Obama Super PAC” which recently boasted about accepting a $1 million contribution from vile misogynist, comedian Bill Maher.
With that in mind, I sent the following letter today to White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew:
The Honorable Jack Lew
Chief of Staff
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. Lew:
As president of a women’s organization representing nearly 500,000 women nationwide, I write to demand that individuals in the Obama Administration immediately stop raising money for Priorities USA, often referred to as “Obama’s SuperPAC” – a group that has not only taken money from misogynistic comedian Bill Maher, but has publicly boasted about his support for their efforts.
According to The New York Times, President Obama has given a “blessing” to Priorities USA, and his chief political advisor David Plouffe headlined a fundraiser for the group last week:
“David Plouffe, a top political adviser to President Obama, is scheduled to appear at a West Coast fund-raising meeting Friday for the “super PAC” backing President Obama’s re-election bid, according to several people familiar with the event. … The event comes about a month after Mr. Obama essentially gave his blessing to the outside groups, signing off on a plan to dispatch cabinet officials and other senior White House advisers to address them on his behalf, signaling a turnabout from his attitude toward independent efforts in the 2008 campaign. The meeting in the Bay Area is for Priorities USA Action, a super PAC set up by Mr. Obama’s former aides.” (“Top Obama Advisor to Appear at ‘Super PAC’ Meeting, New York Times, 3/2/2012)
Just last week, a Priorities USA senior official publicly boasted about Mr. Maher’s support for their efforts. In a great irony, Priorities USA official Paul Begala wrote the following in a fundraising appeal:
“In case you missed it, last week, comedian Bill Maher pledged ONE MILLION DOLLARS to us at Priorities USA Action to help fight back against the right-wing money machine. Needless to say, we are thrilled. Bill's commitment to fighting intolerance, extremism and right-wing hate (which is redundant, I know), is legendary. And now he is putting his money where his mouth is.” (Priorities USA Fundraising Appeal attached)
As I am sure you now know, Mr. Maher is a serially vile misogynist. Newsweek/The Daily Beast reports the following about Mr. Maher:
“…The grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher—who also happens to be a favorite of liberals—who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC. Maher has called Palin a “dumb twat” and dropped the C-word in describing the former Alaska governor. He called Palin and Congresswoman Bachmann “boobs” and “two bimbos.” He said of the former vice-presidential candidate, “She is not a mean girl. She is a crazy girl with mean ideas.” He recently made a joke about Rick Santorum’s wife using a vibrator. Imagine now the same joke during the 2008 primary with Michelle Obama’s name in it, and tell me that he would still have a job. Maher said of a woman who was harassed while breast-feeding at an Applebee’s, “Don't show me your tits!” as though a woman feeding her child is trying to flash Maher. (Here’s a way to solve his problem: don’t stare at a stranger’s breasts). Then, his coup de grâce: “‘And by the way, there is a place where breasts and food do go together. It’s called Hooters!’” (“Rush Limbaugh isn’t the only media misogynist,” Newsweek/The Daily Beast, 3/4/2012)
Not only did the president’s chief political advisor and paid White House staffer David Plouffe headline a fundraising event for Priorities USA, but The New York Times previously reported President Obama’s campaign manager was encouraging “a handful of officials from the administration and the campaign” to “appear on behalf of Mr. Obama” at events for the group.
Active fundraising by the Obama White House for this group flies in the face of what the president said on Tuesday, in response to a question about Rush Limbaugh:
“I don’t know what’s in Rush Limbaugh’s heart, so I’m not going to comment on the sincerity of his apology. What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse. And the reason I called Ms. Fluke is because I thought about Malia and Sasha and one of the things I want them to do as they get older is to engage in issues they care about. Even ones I may not agree with them on. I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”
As I am sure you understand, President Obama cannot put forth the eloquent position he announced on Tuesday, while sending administration officials out to raise money for an organization that not only counts a vile misogynist as its largest single donor, but whose executives actively boast about that vile misogynist’s support.
For the sake of the “public discourse” the president called for on Tuesday, Mr. Obama needs to publicly disassociate himself from Priorities USA and cease all further fundraising in support of the organization, until they return Mr. Maher’s contribution immediately. If Priorities USA prefers to donate Mr. Maher’s contribution to charity, my organization can recommend a list of charities that serve victims of domestic violence and abuse.
President and CEO
Concerned Women for America
Penny Young Nance is president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization. She is the author of the forthcoming book "Feisty and Feminine: A Rallying Cry for Conservative Women" (Zondervan 2016).