Political fundraising has changed since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and the transformation is visible these days in the in-boxes of wealthy donors from both parties.
An e-mail from a GOP fundraising consultant inviting participation in a fundraiser held last week in Palm Beach reveals the new price points and the new intensity occurring in the tight presidential race.
The e-mail invitation solicited participation in a super PAC reception to benefit Mitt Romney, hosted last weekend by Wilbur Ross, the private equity billionaire who chairs WL Ross & Co.
This weekend, Ross and his wife, Hilary, are set to host a separate fundraiser in Palm Beach for Romney Victory, a joint effort between Romney’s campaign and the Republican National Committee. The presidential candidate is scheduled to attend the dinner and reception Saturday evening.
“Donors are very energized,” said Charlie Spies, the treasurer and co-founder of the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future. “They feel Governor Romney’s message is getting communicated effectively, especially since the first debate.”
Ross declined to comment via e-mail. Darlene Jordan, who is listed as a chair of the event last week on the e-mail, said she was not actually involved and did not attend. Ross has previously donated $100,000 to the PAC, while Jordan and her husband have given a combined $500,000.
The difference in the two events is visible in the two invitations. An e-mail from Palm Beach fundraising consultant Teresa Dailey invited an exclusive list of recipients to become co-chairs of the event by raising or bringing “a check for 1 Million/couple.” Host Committee status was available for a check of $250,000 a couple and guests could participate for $100,000.
“Please do not send this email around or invite anyone else to join this highly sensitive event,” the e-mail says.
The amounts tower over the relatively paltry amounts permitted by campaign finance reforms instituted after the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. All politicians have found ways around the official limits, which are $5,000 per person per candidate per election.
In contrast to the e-mail, an invitation to the official campaign fund this weekend at the Ross home invites guests to “An evening with Governor Mitt Romney” for a contribution of $5,000 a person. A private dinner is available for persons contributing $50,000, which includes money for the Republican Party.
The super PAC backing President Obama has also reported healthy returns. It had its best month ever in August collecting $10.1 million. American Crossroads, the GOP-oriented super PAC connected with Karl Rove, raised $9.4 million during the same period.
In a federal disclosure filed Friday afternoon, Restore Our Future reported it had raised a total of $14.9 million in September, including $2 million from Texas home builder Bob Perry, who has given a total of $9 million. Missouri businessman Stanley Herzog gave $1 million on Sept. 13.