President Obama heads into intensive fall fundraising stretch

October 25, 2013

President Obama is setting off on a national fundraising tear to collect money for the three Democratic Party committees, scrambling to pack in events that had been delayed by the government shutdown and a series of foreign policy crises earlier this year.

Obama is cramming at least nine fundraisers into a one-month period to benefit the Democratic National Committee and the two congressional campaign committees, beginning Thursday night in Washington, when he attended the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum at the Jefferson Hotel, his go-to spot to meet with donors while in town. About 30 contributors attended, paying as much as $32,400 each.

On Friday, the president heads to New York, where he will be the star attraction at events for both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the DNC.

The DCCC events include a late-afternoon reception hosted by Kathryn Chenault, wife of American Express chief executive Kenneth Chenault, and a dinner at the home of U.S. Corrugated Chairman Dennis Mehiel and his wife Karen, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Washington Post.

Obama will be joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the DCCC. Among the 60 donors expected to attend are producer Harvey Weinstein, former Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith and BET Networks chief executive Debra Lee.

Then on Oct. 30, Obama is set to headline a DCCC fundraiser in Weston, Mass., at the home of Susan and Alan Solomont, the former U.S. ambassador to Spain. Tickets for the event run as high as $64,800 a couple, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Post. At that level, donors can attend a VIP-hosted reception, get their photo taken with the president and get a seat at the dinner.

In November, the president is scheduled to hit Miami, Philadelphia Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The flurry of events will help Obama fulfill a pledge he made early this year to intensively raise money for the party committees – particularly the two congressional committees, which did not get much of his time during the 2012 election. Obama committed to headlining 14 events for the DSCC and DCCC – but with the end of the year rapidly approaching, he has only checked off five fundraisers so far.

A series of crises have eaten into much of his fundraising time. A September event for the DNC that he was supposed to attend in Los Angeles was scuttled as he worked to build congressional support for a limited military strike against Syria. First lady Michelle Obama was set to fill in for him at a make-up event this month, but it was canceled due to the government shutdown. Also scrapped: a DCCC “women’s brunch” that the first lady was going to headline at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Last week’s resolution to the fiscal standoff in Congress led not only to the resumption of government services, but a rush to reschedule political fundraisers that were put on hold during the showdown. At least 24 events were canceled or rescheduled, according to a tally kept by the Sunlight Foundation’s Political Party Time.

The Web site has already tracked a spike in fundraising events next week – including birthday cocktails to benefit the Senate bid of Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa)  and a breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club honoring Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah).

“It wasn't just the panda cam that came back online after the government shutdown,” said Liz Bartolomeo, a spokeswoman for the Sunlight Foundation.

Matea Gold is a national political reporter for The Washington Post, covering money and influence.
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