Frequent Fliers

The White House flights <a href="/cgi-bin/Database_search/db_search.cgi?setup_file=airforce.setup"> database</a> — fully searchable by passenger, date, or miles traveled. <font color="red">Plus</font>, in collaboration with <a href="http://www.tray.com/fecinfo/">FECInfo</a>, view 1995-1996 itemized campaign contributions from each frequent flier.

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We’ve given you the coffees and the sleep-overs, and now, to complete the package tour (food, lodging and travel), the MoJo Wire presents another Web exclusive: the searchable database of White House flights taken by financial supporters of Clinton and Gore.

Throughout the 1995-96 campaign season, Air Force One criss-crossed the country shuttling the president from one canned stump speech (and fundraiser) to another, while Air Force Two did the same for Al Gore. Turns out, a few big spenders got to hitch a ride: This month the White House released a list of 56 fliers who gave at least $5,000 to the Democratic National Committee or raised at least $25,000 for the DNC or the Clinton/Gore campaign.

Who were the lucky travelers? Well, 39 of the 63 went to White House coffees, and eight appear on this year’s MoJo 400. Some were DNC finance staff and other political operatives, including our No. 2 frequent flier, Terry McAuliffe.

Curious about our “frequent-flier” mileage winner? Hint: He hitched a ride all the way to Moscow, he’s a diamond dealer, and he’s an old friend of both Jackie O and ailing Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Wondering who rubbed elbows with Spam heir James Hormel on a June 22, 1995 flight from San Francisco to Portland? Find out here. Or just browse the list and imagine yourself sipping, napping and jetting through friendly skies — with America’s elite campaign contributors.

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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