In 1996, an unknown community organizer named Barack Obama was looking to get his political career started in the Illinois legislature. At the time, Obama made ethics a key part of his political platform as a new state senator and criticized politicians who sold access to the highest bidders. Obama told the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
"You got these $10,000-a-plate dinners and Golden Circles Clubs. I think when the average voter looks at that, they rightly feel they're locked out of the process. They can't attend a $10,000 breakfast and they know that those who can are going to get the kind of access they can't imagine."
Now as a president seeking reelection, Obama regularly hosts such high-dollar fundraisers to fill his campaign war chest and even raffles off opportunities to donors to have dinner with him. Just last week, Obama's campaign charged $40,000 per person at a private fundraiser closed to the press.