President Obama will be in the Seattle today, the next stop in his fundraising tour in the midst of various global crises including, but not limited to, Gaza, Ukraine and the ongoing border crisis. Over the weekend, Obama met with criticism for continuing to fundraise and attend photo-op events “as the world burns.” The White House has been quick to defend the president’s decision not to cancel plans, Press secretary Josh Earnest going so far as to suggest that the global crises erupting in various places around the world are not yet dire enough for Obama to trouble himself with cancelling fundraising events.
Obama’s Seattle-area fundraising stop comes during “carmageddon.” Westbound I-90 is one lane from Bellevue Way into Seattle through the week to accommodate reinforcement work, the construction project is expected to cause major back-ups on the Eastside. Obama’s visit will only add to commuters’ headache as his trip includes a $25,000 per person event at the home of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, who lives on the Eastside (Hunts Point). The fundraising stop will go towards benefitting the Senate Majority PAC, a super-PAC that accepts unlimited donations.
Prior to his Eastside event, the president will be at the “Seattle waterfront home of Bruce and Ann Blume, who were fundraising “bundlers” for Obama’s 2012 campaign.” The Seattle event will raise money for the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Obama’s route from Seattle to Hunts Point remains unknown. However, evening commuters attempting to go to and from Bellevue and Seattle can expect major back-ups as they deal with both I-90 closures and, presumably, “the presidential motorcade rolling across the Highway 520 bridge,” shutting down traffic.
Last week, Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) officials refused to assist commuters during carmageddon by offering drivers a degree of relief from 520 bridge tolls. WSTC insisted that “they cannot exempt the public from paying tolls on SR-520 during the I-90 construction project, because it needs the $1.3 million in revenue to pay back debt”—an excuse that does not stand-up to close scrutiny. Given the circumstances of Obama’s visit, WSTC’s excuse does beg the question of whether or not the president will be expected to pay for the sole use of 520, especially during one of the busiest commute times of the day.
And, as long as we are asking questions, SHIFT is also curious to know whether or not Democracy Alliance members Nick Hanauer or Rob Glaser will be attending any of the fundraisers in the Seattle-area. After all, Obama’s fundraising tour has thus far been closely tied with the highly secretive Super PAC.