White House press secretary Sean Spicer, whose combative briefings have turned him into a national celebrity, is being promoted as the main draw at a fundraiser Thursday night to benefit the Republican Party of Virginia.
The event, for which Spicer is billed as the “special guest,” is slated to take place at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. — a frequent destination for the president when he sticks around the Washington area on weekends — according to a copy of the invitation.
Spicer’s appearance comes at a particularly embattled stretch during his tenure. In the wake of the tumult that followed President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump has spoken candidly with his advisers about a broad staff shake-up that includes members of his communications team.
Spicer’s national profile has risen in part because of over-the-top portrayals on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” by Melissa McCarthy, including an extended sketch this past weekend.
Spicer, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the fundraiser.
David D'Onofrio, a spokesman for the Virginia GOP, said Spicer “is proving to be a very significant draw, and people are very interested in coming to the event.” He declined to say how many people are expected or otherwise elaborate.
Tickets for the event begin at $125 per person and range to $6,000 for six tickets to both the general reception and a separate VIP reception, according to the invitation.
In keeping with fundraising prohibitions, the invitation is careful to note: “Mr. Spicer is a special guest for this event. His participation in the event is not a solicitation of funds by him.”
Norman Eisen, a former ethics lawyer for then-President Barack Obama, said he found the event “unsavory,” particularly given that it is being held on a Trump property.
“I never would have allowed this constellation of events,” Eisen said. “It sends a message of special influence and access in exchange for cash.”
Virginia Democrats were quick to highlight Spicer's appearance, apparently thinking it will work to their advantage.
Gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello took to Twitter to “welcome” Spicer to Virginia and also sought to ding GOP gubernatorial front-runner Ed Gillespie in the process.
“The bushes here are lush enough to help both you & @EdWGillespie continue to hide from answering for @POTUS,” Perriello wrote, referring to reports last week that Spicer initially sought to avoid taking questions while on White House grounds about Trump's firing of Comey.
A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, the second Democratic gubernatorial contender, joined the pile-on against Spicer and Gillespie.
“Like Ed Gillespie, Sean Spicer wouldn’t know the truth if it smacked him in the face, so he’s the perfect fit for Virginia’s GOP,” said David Turner.
“This event has all the comic makings of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit, but in real life,” Platt said. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing funny about taking health care away from 24 million Americans, jeopardizing women’s health and setting a horrible example for our kids through hateful rhetoric and dangerous policies. Donald Trump and Spicey should take their hate and keep it on the other side of the Potomac River.”