were expressions of gratitude.
Dr. William C. Mohlenbrock, chairman of a health care data analysis firm, Verras, gave occasionally to political candidates over the years, mostly small amounts to Republicans. But last May he contributed the maximum allowable gift, $35,800, to the Obama Victory Fund, which benefits the president's campaign and the Democratic Party. Later in the year, with help from a Democratic consultant, he landed a meeting with a top White House aide involved in the health care overhaul, but failed to persuade Medicare officials to require more health data collection as part of the new regulations.
Joe E. Kiani, who heads a medical device company, Masimo, stepped up his giving to Democrats last year as medical device makers campaigned unsuccessfully for the repeal of an excise tax imposed on the industry. Mr. Kiani had several meetings with White House officials last year, including two with lobbyists from his company and another with representatives from his industry's trade association. In the midst of these gatherings, he donated $35,800 to the victory fund.
Administration officials insisted that donations do not factor into White House visits, and they cited steps taken to curb the influence of money in politics, including a ban on executive branch employees' accepting gifts from lobbyists and on appointees' lobbying the White House after they leave. Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, pointed out that Mr. Obama was the first president to release the visitor logs regularly and added that "being a supporter of the president does not secure you a visit to the White House, nor does it preclude you from one."
"The people selected for this article are contributors to the president," Mr. Schultz said, "but this article excludes the thousands of people who visit the White House every week for meetings and events who did not contribute to the president, many of whom may not have even supported the president."
Most donors, including Dr. Mohlenbrock and Mr. Kiani, declined to talk about their motivations for giving. But Patrick J. Kennedy, former representative from Rhode Island, who donated $35,800 to an Obama re-election fund last autumn while seeking administration support for a nonprofit venture, said contributions were simply a part of "how this business works."
"If you want to call it 'quid pro quo,' fine," he said. "At the end of the day, I want to make sure I do my part."
Mr. Kennedy visited the White House several times to win support for One Mind for Research, his initiative to help develop new treatments for brain disorders. While his family name and connections are clearly influential, he said, he knows White House officials are busy. And as a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he said he was keenly aware of the political realities they face.
"I know that they look at the reports," he said, referring to records of campaign donations. "They're my friends anyway, but it won't hurt when I ask them for a favor if they don't see me as a slouch."
Others, like Ms. Bush, rejected the notion that their donations were tied to access. Her husband said it was a coincidence that his contribution last May -- made at a Democratic fund-raiser -- came on the same day his wife was at the White House. And Ms. Bush noted that most of her meetings occurred before she made her donation in June. She added that as a longtime lawyer with the firm Skadden Arps, it should not be surprising that her work would occasionally take her to the White House.
"Communications law is what I do for a living," Ms. Bush said. "Yes, I'm an Obama supporter, but in the end I'm a communications law expert. I had the same clients in the Bush administration as well as the Obama administration."
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