Obama may have scarfed peanuts and downed brews with Henry Gates and James Crowley yesterday, but the Obama White House, it seems, is usually not so free with the snacks. Earlier this year, the heads of major financial institutions were offered only tap water, no ice, during a meeting with the president, and some executives were so hungry they considered running into the garden and shoveling fistfuls of arugula into their mouths. More recently, when the president invited the CEOs of Xerox, Coca-Cola, AT&T, and Honeywell to lunch, they were actually presented with a bill. According to Politico:
White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.
The White House says they only do this "when appropriate," to avoid the appearance of a conflict, but Letitia Baldrige, who headed Jacqueline Kennedy’s White House Social Office in the early sixties, was appalled. "I think it’s not what quote, hospitality, unquote is all about,” she said. Right? Did they even get to choose what was on the menu? Was it prix fixe? All we know is, next time we're invited to the White House, we are totally brown-bagging it.
W.H. makes CEOs pay for lunch [Politico]