Jeremy Bernard: The Man Who Wields White House Invite Power
By Jerry Portwood
Who's the most powerful party planner of them all? Jeremy Bernard, Out100 honoree (and No. 35 on Out's annual Power List) was recently profiled by the NYTimes Style section in a piece title "White Gloves Not Needed," so if you were wondering what it is the White House social secretary actually does, now we have a few more clues.
As the first man and openly gay person to hold the position, we find that the well-connected Bernard, 50, is responsible for the "massive event-planning job for the most famous couple in the world," and that he "has played a crucial but largely silent role managing some of the biggest, showiest parties in the history of the White House."
The Times goes further to state:
"He has overseen hundreds of events, from this month’s Easter Egg Roll for a record 35,000 participants — Mr. Bernard kept watch from the sidelines, jauntily chewing gum in dark sunglasses — to a stampede of Christmas celebrations to three state dinners. At the most recent one, in honor of Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, 362 guests, including celebrities like George Clooney and Elizabeth McGovern, dined on the South Lawn in what the White House called a “tent” but was in fact a mammoth pavilion theatrically lighted in magenta hues, with orbs of green hydrangeas rising up from the tables on pedestal vases. Mr. Bernard had contracted out the décor to Rafanelli Events, the planner behind Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and events for clients like Giorgio Armani and Bain Capital."
But it's actually the details about who gets invited and where they are seated that is most revelatory. As is noted: "In recent months, the president has turned more and more to gay men and women in search of new veins of large campaign donations, particularly after antagonizing Wall Street, a traditional but now less fruitful source of cash." And HRC incoming president Chad W. Griffin is one of his pals (No. 20 on the Power List) and has been seated at the head table with the Obamas, along with his date, Jerome Fallon.
So, in case you think this is just a trumped party planner, you see that Bernard is shaping politics—from behind the scenes.