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November 3, 2009

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President Obama

Celebs Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington and Oprah Winfrey were among the mix of prominent Democratic fundraisers, and heavyweights from the financial services and high-tech industries who have visited the White House since Barack Obama took office in January.

Winfrey, who campaigned for Obama, interviewed the first lady Feb. 17 and was on the guest list for an inaugural reception Jan. 20. Actor Denzel Washington appears on the visitor list for two White House tours.

The White House late Friday afternoon released a partial list – roughly 480 records – in response to questions about whether specific people visited. The White House plans to start disclosing comprehensive visitor lists in coming months, keeping its promise of transparency.

However, the records also show that despite a campaign pledge to reduce special-interest influence on policymaking, lobbyists are getting face time with him and his aides, reports the AP. The visits included in the records released Friday include roughly eight dozen with Obama.

Among the guests:

• Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The wealthy philanthropist had a March 25 meeting with Obama in the Oval Office. The subject isn’t disclosed. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gives about $200 million a year in elementary and secondary education grants and is pressing for some of the same changes that Obama wants, such as paying teachers based on student test scores.


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