Bill Clinton's 60th Birthday Benefit Blowout

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 28, 2006

Baby boomer and former president Bill Clinton is laying plans to celebrate his 60th birthday in grand style with a charitable fundraising extravaganza in New York late next month that will include an invitation-only concert by the Rolling Stones and contributor packages that run to $500,000 and higher.

Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, who has generally avoided high-profile participation in her parents' political and philanthropic activities, is serving as co-host of the three-day party. She will host a Saturday brunch on a weekend that also features a golf tournament at the Bayonne (N.J.) Golf Club, multiple receptions and a dinner at the American Museum of Natural History with the former president, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Chelsea.

"My mother and I are planning a weekend of events to commemorate his [Clinton's] 60th birthday," Chelsea Clinton writes in the invitation. "I know that he would want you to share this milestone -- so I hope you can join us in New York City this October 27th through the 29th."

The 2,100 invitations began arriving this week. Weekend packages start at $60,000 (Hint: $1,000 for every year of Clinton's age). Next is the "Vice Chair Package," for those who contribute $100,000 or raise $250,000. Those who pledge $500,000 or more will receive the "Birthday Chair Package," which includes the "Backstage Pass" dinner and photo with Clinton and platinum seating at the Saturday dinner and the Stones concert.

The Rolling Stones will perform at the Beacon Theater, an art deco landmark on upper Broadway that seats about 3,000 people. According to the invitation, the concert will be taped for an upcoming Martin Scorsese movie about the band. Organizers of the event would not say whether the Stones will be paid for their appearance.

Space in the theater is expected to be at a premium, and members of the extended Clinton network who may not be able to afford the hefty price of admission for the weekend events already are maneuvering to find a way into the concert.

"It's a birthday party," Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said yesterday. "It's the New York birthday celebration for President Clinton."

Clinton turned 60 in August but organizers delayed the birthday fundraising event until late October to avoid any complaints from other Democrats that solicitation of money for the former president's foundation would soak up money that could otherwise be used to try to win back the House and Senate in November.

The proceeds will go to the William J. Clinton Foundation, the umbrella organization that oversees the Clinton HIV-AIDS initiative, the Clinton Global Initiative and several other programs launched by the former president since he left office almost six years ago.

Clinton collected more than $7 billion in commitments to his Global Initiative project last week in New York. His foundation staged an event similar to the planned October fundraiser in Toronto recently and collected approximately $20 million. Organizers won't put a figure on what they expect to raise in New York next month but are anticipating a significantly larger take than the Canadian event generated.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe is listed as the co-host with Chelsea Clinton.

The celebration of all things Clinton will come less than two weeks before Hillary Clinton is expected to cruise to reelection, after which she will turn her attention to a possible 2008 presidential campaign.

She is widely expected to seek the presidency, although her husband and other advisers say she will not make a final decision until the 2006 campaign is over. No doubt the weekend celebration will prompt further speculation that she already has decided.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company