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President Obama visits Bay Area for fundraisers, town hall

By Beat News Service September 25, 2011 No Comments Print Share

President Barack Obama answers a question during a town hall meeting at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto April 20. (Steven Luo / CALIFORNIA BEAT)

President Obama will return to the Bay Area Sunday to headline two pricey fundraisers and host a Monday morning town hall meeting organized by the social networking website LinkedIn, as part of a West Coast swing to raise cash for his reelection campaign.

Obama will arrive in the Bay Area from Seattle late Sunday afternoon, and is expected to attend a $2,500+ per plate fundraising dinner at the Woodside home of former Symantec CEO John Thompson. The President will then head to a second fundraiser at the Atherton home of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, where attendees are paying $38,500 to meet with the President.

The President has found strong political allies in Silicon Valley, where some of the most powerful names in the tech industry have hosted several previous fundraisers benefitting his 2012 reelection bid and publicly supported his administration’s job creation initiatives.

Whatever happens at Sunday’s fundraisers will likely be out of the public’s eye after the White House announced Friday that, unlike for past fundraisers, it would not allow a pool reporter — typically chosen from a local news outlet — to attend the private events.

The Obama Administration did not clarify why they were prohibiting press access to Sunday’s events, but First Amendment advocates said the decision was an attempt by the White House — which has been under fire after the collapse of Fremont-based solar manufacter Solyndra — to control information coming from fundraisers where the guest list includes some of the most influential people in the tech industry.

Republicans blasted the decision to bar press from the fundraisers. “It’s rather ironic that the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history, is restricting press access at fundraisers just miles from away from Solyndra and the heart of a grown scandal President Obama refuses to address,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Ryan Mahoney said in an email.
   
Monday morning’s town hall meeting, hosted by LinkedIn and staged at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, will focus on job creation. Attendance is limited to an invited audience, but members of the public can watch the town hall online starting at 11 a.m. Pacific time through LinkedIn’s website.
 
Obama will depart the Bay Area afterwards for additional fundraisers in Los Angeles and San Diego on the same day.

House Republicans, meanwhile, will be holding an online town hall meeting of their own — hosted by Sandberg — later Monday. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Sacramento, and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan will answer questions from Facebook users beginning at 3 p.m. Pacific time.

Check the California Beat website for coverage of the Presidential visit, and follow @californiabeat on Twitter for live updates on the visit.

Contact the Beat at news@californiabeat.org.

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