White House Won’t Say If Obama SuperPAC Should Return $1M from Maher

March 8, 2012 - 5:47 PM

Jay Carney

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (AP Photo/Caroyn Kaster(

(CNSNews.com) – Asked about comedian and Obama super PAC contributor Bill Maher’s comments about women, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration “cannot be the arbitrator” of what can and cannot be talked about, giving no indication that the president wished Priorities USA to return Maher’s $1 million contribution.

This comes less than a week after President Barack Obama called birth control activist Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, with regards to what talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said about her.

The group Concerned Women for America sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew Thursday about Obama’s association with the SuperPAC called Priorities USA, which Maher contributed $1 million to.

“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,” wrote CWA President Penny Nance, 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.

Under the law, a candidate cannot coordinate with a SuperPAC on fundraising or anything else. However, Obama gave his “blessing” to Priorities USA for people who wanted to help his reelection campaign.

A reporter stated the president doesn’t control Priorities USA, but asked Carney, “He did bless that PAC. Can he also say ‘give that check back?’”

Carney answered without mentioning either Maher or Limbaugh.

“I think the points you made as you were asking your question are the points that I would make, that we are not and cannot be the arbitrator of every statement everybody makes in the policy and political arena,” Carney said.

“As a general matter, obviously language that denigrates women is inappropriate,” Carney continued. “I would point you to what the president said when he was asked about this during his press conference. That he chooses to lead by example or to try to. He chooses to, in the pursuit of more civil discourse in our public space, he tries to practice that civility himself, and he calls on everybody to do just that.

Priorities USA official Paul Begala, a long time Democratic operative, wrote about the Maher donation 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,” Begala wrote. “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.”

Newsweek/The Daily Beast reported this week on numerous comments Maher has made.

“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,” the Newsweek piece said.

“Maher has called Palin a ‘dumb twat’ and dropped the C-word in describing the former Alaska governor. He called Palin and Congresswoman [Michele] 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,” Newsweek reported.

Nance quoted both the Newsweek article and the Begala fundraising appeal in her letter to 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,” the letter said.

Interestingly this week, Maher has defended Limbaugh in a tweet, opposing advertising boycotts.