By now, millions of Americans are familiar with Anita Dunn, who recently resigned her post as Barack Obama’s White House Communications Director after it was learned that she had previously cited Mao Zedong, the late Communist dictator and mass murderer, as one of her “favorite political philosophers.” By contrast, few people know anything substantive about Dunn’s husband, Robert Bauer, who has replaced Gregory Craig as President Obama’s White House Counsel. Craig resigned abruptly on November 13, after having repeatedly denied, for weeks, that he had any plans of stepping down.
A 1976 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Robert Bauer bleeds Democrat blue. He has served as counsel to the Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees for many years. In 1999 he was counsel to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, the South Dakota Democrat who led his party’s defense of Bill Clinton in the latter’s impeachment trial. Each day during the trial proceedings, Bauer and Democratic leaders strategized on how they could best help Clinton beat the charges against him — perjury, abuse of power, and obstruction of justice.
In 1999-2000, Bauer was general counsel to the Bill Bradley for President Committee. Also in 2000, he filed a racketeering lawsuit against then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, accusing the Texas Republican of extortion and money laundering. In 2004 Bauer served as general counsel to the Democratic National Committee during the presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry. Today Bauer heads the political law group at Perkins Coie, the powerful, Democrat-aligned Seattle law firm that represents, among others, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Bauer forged a close affiliation with Barack Obama after the latter was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. He became Obama’s private attorney and then, when the Senator declared his candidacy for President in February 2007, Bauer was appointed as general counsel for Obama’s presidential campaign — a project dubbed “Obama For America” (OFA). In January 2009, when OFA merged with the Democratic National Committee and became known as Organizing for America, Bauer retained his position as the entity’s general counsel.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama, who has never made his original birth certificate available for public scrutiny, hired Perkins Coie to defend him in court cases challenging his status as a “natural born” U.S. citizen — a status upon which Obama’s eligibility to hold the office of President is contingent. According to Federal Election Commission records, OFA has already paid Perkins Coie $1,352,378.95 for its legal services in these cases.
Also in 2008, Bauer was intimately involved in Obama’s controversial decision to break the pledge he had made to accept public funding for the presidential campaign. Bauer and Obama based that decision on their calculation that the candidate was a fundraising powerhouse who would be able to collect far more money via his own efforts than he could ever get from the public financing system.
While Obama campaigned against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and then against Republican opponent John McCain, Bauer quietly wrote letters to television-station managers and to Assistant Attorney General John Keeney, contending that Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules forbade the airing of any anti-Obama television ads that made even the barest mention of the Senator’s well-documented association with former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. Bauer filed FEC complaints against groups that were seeking to run such ads, and he intervened on Obama’s behalf to prevent the American Leadership Project — a pro-Hillary organization — from running TV spots exposing the strong support Obama had received from the thuggish Service Employees International Union. The SEIU is led by former New Leftist Andrew Stern, who was taught the tactics of radical activism at the Midwest Academy, the training ground established by former Students for a Democratic Society radicals Paul and Heather Booth. Stern also has close ties to the billionaire financier of far-left causes, George Soros, and sits on the Executive Committee of the Soros-funded America Coming Together — a massive get-out-the vote project for Democrat candidates. Bauer himself has lent his legal expertise to ACT.
In 2009 Obama hired Bauer as legal counsel to represent him in a criminal probe investigating whether former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may have sought — with Obama’s (or Rahm Emanuel’s) knowledge — to sell to the highest bidder the U.S. Senate seat Obama had vacated when he assumed the presidency.
Bauer also has worked on issues related to Obama’s ties to Tony Rezko, a Chicago-based restaurateur and real-estate developer who was one of the first major financial contributors to Obama’s political campaigns in the 1990s. Over a span of several years, Rezko raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama. A few months after Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, he and Rezko’s wife purchased (in a deal that may have been handled, in part, by Robert Bauer) adjacent pieces of property in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood. Obama’s portion of the deal involved a mansion for which he paid $1.65 million — $300,000 below the seller’s asking price. Meanwhile, Rezko’s wife (who had little income and owned few assets) paid the full asking price — $625,000 — for a vacant lot adjacent to Obama’s mansion. The owners of the house and the lot had stipulated that neither property could be sold unless a deal for the other also closed on the same day. Both deals indeed closed on the same day in June 2005.
At that time, Mr. Rezko, who owed more than $10 million on defaulted loans and failed business ventures, was being hotly pursued by creditors; at least 12 lawsuits had been filed against him and his businesses. Moreover, he was under federal investigation on charges that he had solicited kickbacks from companies seeking state pension business under his friend, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, for whom Rezko reportedly had raised as much as $500,000. For more than two years before the property purchases, news articles also had raised questions about Mr. Rezko’s influence over state appointments and contracts. Moreover, reports swirled that the FBI was investigating accusations of a shakedown scheme in which Rezko had suggested particular candidates for appointment to a state hospital board.
What does all this have to do with Robert Bauer’s current, and sudden, ascendancy to the position of White House Counsel? According to The American Spectator, one former Obama transition team adviser puts it this way:
“[Bauer] knows where all the bodies are buried, and this indicates that there is something amiss with this White House, or at least someone is nervous about what is going on. You don’t just make these kinds of changes [Bauer’s appointment as Gregory Craig’s replacement] for the sake of rearranging the deck chairs, and not at this time with at least three legislative and policy decisions looming that the Counsel’s office would have been deeply involved in.”
A highly placed Washington attorney (who has served as counsel in the Senate and in previous presidential administrations) characterizes Bauer’s sudden appointment as “pretty damn weird.” “I’m surprised not only that the press seems to be ignoring the fact that two presidential lawyers have left at about the same time,” adds the attorney, “but that no one seems to care that for the first time, I think ever, we have a President’s personal attorney also serving as White House counsel. I don’t care if Bob [Bauer] recuses himself from future personal legal business, this should be troubling to anyone who cares about the Executive Office of the President.”
Ultimately, Anita Dunn’s affinity for Chairman Mao may prove to be far less significant than her husband’s unrivaled familiarity with the skeletons in President Obama’s closet.