Pool reporter David Nakamura of the Washington Post reported that at a $35,800 a head fundraiser at the home of Blackstone COO Hamilton "Tony" James in New York City Monday night, the 60 attendees were asked to place their phones in plastic bags by the door.
An Obama aide called the move it "standard operating procedure," but veterans of a range of other campaigns said they'd never heard of the practice, which is common in secure White House spaces where there are concerns of espionage, but unknown in contexts in which only political secrets are discussed. The new prevalence of sophisticated audio and recording capacities in mobile devices owned by virtually anyone wealthy enough to write a check to a political campaign, however, has put a new pressure on campaigns concerned with staying on a public message.
Former aides to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Rick Perry, and Jon Huntsman all expressed surprise at the practice, and they've never seen an instance where a campaign asked donors to surrender their cell phones.
The former Clinton aide called the Obama policy "absurd," suggesting that the Obama policy is almost certainly a response to the infamous 2008 fundraiser where Obama described voters in rural Pennsylvania as "bitter."
More from Reason on Obama's awful transparency record.