The Washington Post

Post-shutdown, Obama — and Washington — return to fundraising

President Obama launched a national push this week to raise money for the three main Democratic Party committees, part of a return to hectic fundraising by both parties after the 16-day government shutdown stalled most events.

Obama is cramming at least nine fundraisers into a one-month period to benefit the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for House candidates and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

The effort began Thursday night when he attended a reception for the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum at a Washington hotel — where about 30 contributors gave up to $32,400 each — and continued Friday with fundraisers in New York to benefit both the DNC and the DCCC.

Last week’s resolution to the fiscal standoff in Congress set off a rush to reschedule political fundraisers that were put on hold. At least 24 events were canceled or postponed, according to a tally kept by the Sunlight Foundation’s Political Party Time Web site.

The group has already noted 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.

For Obama, a series of recent crises have eaten into 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 makeup event this month, but it was canceled due to the government shutdown. Also scrapped was a DCCC “women’s brunch” that the first lady was going to headline at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

A flurry of events in coming weeks will help Obama fulfill a pledge he made early this year to intensively raise money for the party committees. Obama committed to headlining 14 events for the DSCC and DCCC, but he has checked off only five of those fundraisers.

The DCCC events in New York on Friday included a reception hosted by Kathryn Chenault — wife of American Express chief executive Kenneth Chenault — and a dinner at the home of U.S. Corrugated Inc. Chairman Dennis Mehiel and his wife, Karen, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Washington Post.

Obama was joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the DCCC, the invitation said. Among the 60 donors who were slated to attend were film producer Harvey Weinstein, former ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith and BET Networks chief executive Debra L. Lee.

On Wednesday, Obama is set to headline another DCCC fundraiser in Weston, Mass., at the home of Susan and Alan Solomont, a 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 visit Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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


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