First Lady Prepares to Raise Funds
By Susan B. Glasser
Seeking to capitalize on her national stature and the unprecedented nature of a Senate campaign featuring a first lady, Clinton's advisers are planning to tap small donors around the country through an aggressive direct-mail program. Sources close to the effort said that non-New Yorker Clinton's fund-raising for the New York Senate race will also include big money events in two other states she has called home: Illinois and Arkansas.
But, with the first lady already acutely sensitive about carpetbagging charges, "she has to have a very New York-based fund-raising operation," said one of her top financial advisers. As finance director, Clinton's team has hired New Yorker Gabrielle Fialkoff, who was the chief fund-raiser for New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone's unsuccessful gubernatorial bid.
"It's an expensive race," said Harold Ickes, the former White House deputy chief of staff who's been spearheading the first lady's still-unofficial Senate bid. Noting that New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer spent more than $15 million winning election last year, Ickes said, "it's certainly not going to be less than that."
While Clinton does not plan to start actively raising money until she officially registers her exploratory committee next month with the Federal Election Commission, Ickes said some unsolicited checks have already come in. "We're not going to reveal how much," he said.
FEC rules require candidates who have raised at least $5,000 to report their fund-raising activity, but Clinton can operate under a "testing the waters" exemption as she nears her decision. The money she has already taken in will have to be disclosed once she formally decides to run.
Sources said Ickes met last Wednesday with McAuliffe, Fialkoff and Laura Hartigan, McAuliffe's deputy for the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection, to set the fund-raising goals. "The idea is for a New York money-based campaign," said one source, who said veterans of President Clinton's campaigns such as New York venture capitalist Alan Patricof and his wife, Susan, and former deputy treasury secretary Roger C. Altman will be involved.
"We're envisioning lots of house parties and small donor events as well," said another source. Clinton also hopes to tap into the network of female donors to the Democratic National Committee, a Women's Leadership Forum she has cultivated over the last several years.
New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Clinton's likely Republican rival, has already been raising money aggressively for the 2000 Senate contest. He reported about $700,000 cash on hand at the end of March and sources said he's looking to bank $2.8 million by the end of June.
This week, "we'll make our first foray into Washington," a Giuliani adviser said, for a $1,000-a-person fund-raising dinner sponsored by the entire Senate GOP leadership. Tweaking Clinton on her home turf is more than just a D.C. matter for Giuliani's team, which has also scheduled fund-raisers in Arkansas and Illinois.
© 1999 The Washington Post Company