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Entries in Donors (17)

Wednesday
Nov282012

Watchdogs Question Obama Donor Influence in ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Meetings

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Government watchdogs Wednesday questioned the place of top Obama campaign donors among the elite few invited to the White House over the past two weeks for private presidential consultations on the looming “fiscal cliff.”

Supporters of President Obama who maxed out personal contributions to his campaign or the Democratic National Committee, or helped bundle hundreds of thousands of dollars more, have been seated at the table in every publicly-announced post-election White House meeting with “business leaders,” according to lists released by the administration.

A West Wing meeting with Obama on Wednesday afternoon included Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who bundled between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama’s campaign; Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who gave $20,000 to the DNC; and Archer Daniels Midland CEO Patricia Woertz, who gave more than $33,000 to Obama and the DNC combined, Federal Election Commission records show.

On Nov. 16, according to Bloomberg News, Obama attended an unpublicized meeting with a group of financial leaders, most of whom were his top campaign financiers.  The list of participants includes at least six bundlers — including UBS Americas chairman Robert Wolf and Centerbridge Partners founder Mark Gallogly — who each raised half a million dollars or more for a second Obama term, according to the president’s campaign.

“It certainly looks like the president is rewarding his top bundlers with White House meetings on this critical issue,” said Mary Boyle of Common Cause, a nonpartisan group that promotes greater government transparency.

“This is the access the bundlers were seeking when they spent months on end raising money for President Obama, and this will be their first opportunity to let him know what else they expect for their investment,” she said.

The Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison said inclusion of so many donors underscores a “culture of money and access.”

“This plays right into it,” he said.

“You shouldn’t necessarily exclude somebody because they’ve given money from seeking their advice or seeking their opinion,” Allison added. “But when donors are such an overwhelming part of the kinds of folks you’re bringing in, I think you end up with a somewhat distorted view of the economy.”

Among the executives Obama met with on Wednesday were several who gave to the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.  Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson and State Farm CEO Ed Rust both maxed out to Romney’s campaign and the Republican National Committee.  Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, also big GOP donors, also attended.

“Nice of them to include a few Romney donors in the CEOs, but still, all of these people who gave money for the most part do it because they have a stake in the outcome of the election and they want to be able to access politicians,” Allison said.

“It’s really hard for me to believe that there aren’t plenty of business people out there who don’t play the political game and who might have something to say that’s of use to the president on the economy,” he said, noting that very few business owners actually donate to political campaigns.

A White House spokesman dismissed the criticism, noting that Obama has met with business and social leaders who are not donors or bundlers, and Wednesday assembled 85 “ordinary middle-class folks” for an event on taxes.

(The official declined to provide a list of names of those “folks” or whether any of the participants were donors. Obama did not hold a formal meeting with the attendees, according to the president’s public schedule.)

Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, a watchdog group, said that while greater transparency is always preferred, Obama’s inclusion of donors is to be expected.

“He’s looking to build support for his proposal and it’s not unnatural to be meeting with your supporters to build support,” Wertheimer said.

Earlier this week, a coalition of independent watchdog groups praised Obama’s advances in transparency, including new legislation, backed by the administration and signed into law this week, that enhances protections for government whistleblowers.

The groups have also credited Obama for voluntarily releasing the names and contribution amounts of his bundlers — a move not required by law and not matched by his Republican rival.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Exclusive: Secret Menu Details Perks, Access for Elite Romney Donors

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Hours before Gov. Mitt Romney accepts the Republican nomination for President in Tampa, he will have a two-hour lunch with some of his most elite donors -- the group known as the Romney Victory Council. The lunch is part of a whirlwind schedule laid out for Romney's most elite fundraisers, a copy of which was obtained by ABC News.

Marked "Confidential," the schedule offers a rare inside look at how the Republican National Convention is playing out for those who have raised and donated the most to see Romney elected.

Council members will have breakfast with Condoleezza Rice this morning and cocktails with the Republican leaders of the Congress this evening. They will be toasted at an "appreciation reception" with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell aboard the Cracker Bay Yacht. They will enjoy a special audience with Ann Romney on Thursday, and a political briefing from the candidate's senior political staff.

Much is made of the convention spending by lobbyists and special interests looking to use golf outings and concerts to lubricate their relationships with high-ranking politicians. But the nurturing of major donors has become an equally important staple of the political conventions -- though on a scale that appears to grow with each campaign cycle, according to Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig.

"It is part of a system, an economy of influence," Lessig told ABC News. "And if you don't play in that economy, you don't have the access and influence you need."

In a presidential campaign where the contenders will combine to raise well over $1 billion, the techniques for rewarding top donors with titles and attention have been carefully honed -- with the rewarding of special monikers, briefings from campaign insiders, and exclusive retreats all part of every campaign's playbook.

While Romney's campaign has said little about the campaign's fundraising program, the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Council members have committed to raise $1 million, while others, such as "Stars," have raised at least $250,000 and "Stripes," have raised at least $500,000.

President Obama's campaign has a similar program. A National Finance Committee of Obama's top bundlers -- those who raise at least $500,000 for his campaign -- attends quarterly meetings to hear from top campaign officials, including a two-day session held in Chicago in June.

In Tampa, top Romney supporters have been treated like high rollers in Las Vegas. Much of that occurs in hidden rooms on high floors of luxury hotels and in luxury boxes inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the building where the convention itself is being held.

For the Victory Council, that means enjoying the festive floor sessions from the "Road to Victory Suite." For members of another tier of his supporters, the "Founding Partners," there is "The Green Room."

For other top donors, also behind velvet curtains, is the private retreat that the Romney campaign is calling "The Lounge." Top donors receive a special red credential tag to enter, and can lounge on big leather chairs inside. Two full bars are serving beverages for GOP leadership events that occur at all hours.

Charles R. Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, said the environment is conducive to the networking that has become the lifeblood of national political conventions.

"The conventions are a chance for their donors to hobnob directly with the lawmakers, Congress and obviously the Presidential candidates and the future cabinet, perhaps, of the United States," Lewis said. "It is a schmooze fest involving the wealthiest interests in the United States that want to be close to power."

On Thursday, the ultimate schmoozing will occur at the Victory Council lunch, held at an area resort. There the elite donors will have lunch with Romney, his Vice Presidential pick, Paul Ryan, Ann Romney, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. After lunch, they will be given the chance to pose for photos with Ryan.

Busses will then shuttle the special group to the Convention, where they will have a reception with Gov. McDonnell and "the Romney sons." All that will build to the convention's most anticipated moment. From the Road to Victory Suite, they will watch Romney accept his party's nomination.

And when they depart Tampa at the week's end, they will carry gifts of appreciation, including such high-end mementos as brass clocks for their mantels and wooden captain's chairs with personalized brass plaques imprinted with Mitt Romney's signature.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug172012

Secret 'Menu' Details Perks for Big Democratic Donors

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Those seeking invites to the most lavish receptions at the 2012 Democratic National Convention -- "gold ticket" access to "dialogues," and private breakfast briefings with party luminaries -- can expect a hefty price of admission.

A list of high-end convention packages circulated by the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee, and obtained by ABC News, shows that those and other perks are being offered to donors who raise $1 million or donate $100,000 to the convention's nonprofit planning arm.

The cash-for-access formula has been a longtime staple of national political conventions, and though Democrats told ABC News they have tried to shift the focus to access for grassroots supporters this year, critics say the menu of perks for donors is a reminder that those giving big dollars can still expect special treatment.

"We pride ourselves on being a country of equality, and this kind of arrangement subverts that," said Kathy Kiely, managing editor of the Sunlight Foundation reporting group.  "If you have big money to give, you get a lot more access."

The packages for the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., are tiered.  Top fundraisers and donors are given "premier credentials" that access luxury suites and the convention floor.  They also grant donors hotel locations with close proximity to party leadership events, and special access to a special hospitality house near the convention floor.

Someone who raises $1 million tops the list, while top flight packages are also spelled out for those who donate $100,000 directly, or raise more than $650,000 (Trustee Package), $500,000 (Piedmont Package), $250,000 (Dogwood Package) and on down.

Democrats say they are trying to move away from the cash for access tradition. This year, the party's contract with the convention host committee included the first ever restrictions on who can donate, and on how much they can give.  The Host Committee announced it would not take corporate or lobbyist money, and that it would limit individual giving to no more than $100,000.

"We've gone further than any convention in history to find ways to provide greater access for the public," said Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman Joanne Peters.

Dan Murrey, the executive director of the Host Committee said in a statement to ABC News that his group is "raising money for this convention in a way that has never been done before."

The committee hired a full time grass roots finance director, and tried to be creative in enticing smaller donors to contribute to the event -- even sponsoring a barbecue sauce competition, a poster contest, and a chance for anyone donating $3 to win a trip to the convention with the airfare and hotel provided.

With just weeks left to go, Murrey said the host committee had raised money from nearly 65 times more individuals than did the Denver committee.

"Our grassroots fundraising has exceeded expectations in terms of broadening the donor base and engaging more people in the effort," he said.

Melanie Roussell, a DNC spokeswoman, added that she believes the Charlotte convention "will demonstrate what we've been arguing all along -- that the president and Democrats are on the side of working families and committed to strengthening the economy from the middle class out."

For those promised access to special events in exchange for large donations, the Democrats host committee has left unspoken just how much access, and to whom, their money will buy.  While the convention packages dangle opportunities to attend "dialogues" and "breakfast briefings," there is no indication noted about the identities of the dignitaries who will attend.

The money raised by the committee is not intended to be spent on the president or Democratic members of congress, but to help cover the roughly $36 million budget to throw the event.  Similarly, the Tampa Bay Host Committee notes on its donor website that the more than $50 million it plans to raise for the August convention "will be used to alleviate the burdens of local government and promote the Tampa Bay area."

If their track record holds, Republicans will be offering even pricier perks for those attending the GOP Convention in Tampa, Fla.  Four years ago, the Republican convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul provided donors of $5 million or more a private dinner and a separate golf outing with the Republican leadership.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul172012

Romney Camp Calls Obama Taking Bain Donations ‘Height of Hypocrisy’

JEWEL SAMAD/FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While Democrats assail presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital business practices, Republicans note that President Obama has not been bashful about accepting cash from Bain executives or other high-profile figures in the corporate buyout business.

“President Obama has based his entire reelection campaign on a vicious, dishonest assault on Mitt Romney’s business career. The real question for President Obama is this: if Bain Capital is so bad, why have you taken nearly $120,000 in donations from them?” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “President Obama’s actions are the height of hypocrisy.”

Obama and his re-election campaign have been hammering Romney for reaping huge profits at the helm of Bain, while companies in which the firm invested went bankrupt, laid off workers or outsourced jobs overseas -- though many of the examples his critics cite happened after Gov. Romney had left the company.

“Romney and his partners put payments to themselves and their partners first, before anything else,” David Foster, a former union leader at Bain-owned and now bankrupt GST Steel told reporters on a conference call.

“I was the one who had to tell [the laid off workers] that Bain had broken its promises, underfunded their pensions and that they were on their own,” he said, noting that Bain had devastated families and real lives.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks Federal Election Commission data, Obama has collected $118,121 from donors who list Bain as their employer between June 2004 and May 2012. The period covers Obama’s bid for the Senate and his presidential campaigns.

One of Obama’s top campaign financiers -- Jonathan Lavine -- is also managing director at Bain, bundling between $100,000 and $200,000 in contributions for the 2012 Obama Victory Fund, according to estimates released by the Obama campaign. The president has also relied on other leading figures in the private equity sector as hosts for high-dollar fundraisers and as members of his Jobs Council.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt denied there was a double standard, saying the attacks on Romney are not about Bain Capital or private equity but about the candidate’s business record.

“Mitt Romney is the only person campaigning for president who says that during his tenure as a corporate buyout specialist his goal was job creation and that we should evaluate his qualifications for the presidency based on that record,” LaBolt told reporters on a conference call.

“As the president has made clear when he’s discussed this, the job of the President of the United States is to worry about the workers and the livelihoods of middle-class families just as much as it is to worry about profit creation,” he said.

The Romney camp has fired back at the Obama campaign, saying it's the president who has shipped jobs overseas, thanks to hundreds of millions in taxpayer-funded stimulus money that went to foriegn companies, or went to fund other companies' facilities overseas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun252012

What Romney’s Donors Heard at This Weekend’s Utah Retreat

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(PARK CITY, Utah) -- Mitt Romney’s donors attended a golf outing on Sunday at the Red Ledges Gold Club in Heber, Utah, but the excitement was really what went on Friday and Saturday at the events and panels.

Romney’s top donors were treated to panels on specialized policy topics, such as healthcare or the financial services industry, heard speeches from stars of the Republican Party, such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and were granted access to the presidential candidate’s senior advisors for information about the inner workings of the campaign.

All events were closed to reporters, but ABC News has the rundown of some of what these donors were privileged to hear.

James Baker

One of the first discussions Friday was a lecture from former Secretary of State James Baker III.  Rodger Young, a donor from Michigan and New York, described the speech as “positive” in tone and although he said Baker did say the country was in “significant trouble” because of the nation’s “debt burden,” the state of the world “internationally … isn’t as bad as you think,” specifically pointing out that America has “still by far the strongest military.”

Baker scolded the Obama administration for “ignoring any type of bipartisanship,” according to Young.

Mitt and Ann Romney Greet Attendees

Friday evening, donors were treated to a lavish reception at Park City’s Olympic Park.  Attendees watched Olympic hopefuls perform on the ski jump, which was used in the 2002 Olympics, but they also heard from the Romney couple.

Two donors from New Jersey who attended the reception said their highlight was Ann Romney’s speech, when she introduced her family and roasted her sons, four of whom attended.  On Saturday, Sen. John Thune said Ann Romney’s speech was “funny” and called Mitt Romney’s address “inspirational” in tone that went beyond just thanking the fundraisers, adding that the presumptive GOP nominee described how he wants to lead the country.

Larry Conti, a plus-one attendee from Los Angeles, said Romney mentioned the Brookings Institution study, often cited by Rick Santorum during the primaries.  Romney spoke about this study in his speech to the annual Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.  The study found that marriage, education, and employment all play important roles in keeping people out of poverty.

McCain’s Morning Address

To kick off Saturday morning, Sen. John McCain addressed the donors.  Young told ABC News that McCain spoke about Iran, saying that “Iran is so much closer to nuclear weaponry than they were at the commencement of the Barack Obama term.”  McCain, who ran against President Obama in 2008, also discussed the “perceived weakness of the United States” in the world.

Innovation in America Panel


Attendees were then treated to a panel moderated by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who said the president “needs a lot of help in terms of understanding the private sector,” according to Young.  Two other vice presidential contenders, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, also sat on the panel along with Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who discussed the “necessity to get people to graduate from our technical colleges.”  Billionaire financier and Home Depot founder Ken Langone also spoke, and according to Conti, relayed a message for the current administration: “Leave us alone and let us hire people.”  Conti said Langone told the audience with today’s “regulations,” he would not be able to start Home Depot.

Media Insight Panel

Karl Rove, founder of American Crossroads and a former Bush strategist, was also on hand.  He spoke on a “media insight” panel and on another one examining Romney’s path to victory.  Rove, dressed in a blue blazer, told reporters his panel was “damn good,” before whizzing away on a golf cart.

Attendees said the panel was engaging and humorous, with Rove swearing up a storm and regaling the crowd with funny stories.

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz told reporters both Rove and GOP strategist Mary Matalin were making the crowd howl, telling them about when Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a friend with bird-shot pellets on a hunting trip.

“He was on full display,” Chaffetz said of Rove.

It wasn’t all joking, though.  According to Young and his wife, Rove said, “We had to focus on some particular groups, such as some Republicans that didn’t vote in the last election,” including focusing on women.  It’s unclear whether Rove was also soliciting donations as he mingled with attendees over the weekend.

Campaign Debrief

Donors didn't just listen to the top leaders and thinkers of the Republican Party.  They also received a briefing by the Romney senior staff, including campaign manager Matt Rhoades, senior strategist Stuart Stevens, and longtime adviser Beth Myers, who is heading up the vice presidential selection process.  They described the campaign’s “10 a.m. meeting,” according to Chaffetz, who attended.

“I think people were fascinated by that,” Chaffetz said.  “They spent a good half hour showing them how they would do that, and what they would talk about and how they review the numbers and talk about messaging and develop that into a cohesive message that’s not only earned media but also paid media and other types of things.  That was really different than I think that most people thought.”

Chaffetz added that they went through “the analysis of what’s going on in the media, looking at polling, looking at all the different facets.”

Condoleezza Rice’s Show-Stealing Lunch

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was very well received, with almost every donor saying her speech was the highlight of the weekend.  She spoke with no notes and received a sustained standing ovation when she was done, according to several attendees.

Charles Cobb, who served as ambassador to Iceland from 1989 to 1992, said Rice was “spectacular” and described her as a “very bright, sophisticated, articulate lady.”

Husband-and-wife donors from Los Angeles who did not want to be identified said Rice’s message was one of “America needing to take charge.”

“We can’t stand by and let things happen,” the wife said.  “If we do, someone else will take that leadership role.”

They both described her address as an “impassioned plea” for the country to “stand up and take charge.”

Donor Kent Lucken, an international banker in Boston who moved back to his home state of Iowa for six weeks before the caucuses to help Romney, said “she rocked it.”

Jeb Bush Rounds Out the Night

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spoke at the final reception on Saturday, and as donors were leaving to go to private dinners at restaurants and residences around town, one fundraiser from Greenwich, Conn., said Bush told the crowd “the country was only growing at 2 percent when we could be growing at 4 percent.  If the country was growing at 4 percent we could add on another country the size of Germany to the United States.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun252012

Anonymous Donor Helps New Hampshire Town Pay for Obama Visit

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images(DURHAM, N.H.) --  When President Obama makes a campaign stop in Durham, N.C., Monday afternoon, he’ll have an anonymous donor to thank for defusing what had been a growing controversy over the cost of the presidential visit to local taxpayers.

Durham officials announced Sunday that an unidentified town resident offered $20,000 to cover the extra police and fire services deployed in conjunction with Obama’s speech at Oyster River High School.  The town had sought reimbursement from the president’s campaign, which demurred.

“We have more than enough civic work on our plate,” Durham council chairman Jay Gooze said in a statement. “To be clear, our request came from the basic responsibility that a local government has to its residents to ensure that expenses outside our approved budget are recovered in a fair and equitable manner.”

Most localities visited by the president on official and political business usually absorb the cost of deploying extra local public safety services to support Secret Service.  But given budget concerns, officials here decided to request reimbursement given the political nature of the event.

Obama campaign aides said local public safety staffing and operations were out of their control and thus costs could not be reasonably assigned to them.

“As a private organization, OFA does not participate in security or traffic control planning.  All such decisions, including their impact on costs incurred by federal, state or local governments, are exclusively within  the control of the appropriate government officials,” Obama for America chief operating officer Ann Marie Habershaw wrote in a letter to Durham town manager Todd Selig on June 23.

“Should there be a question about the allocation of expenses among the cooperating authorities, we assume that it should be directed to the U.S. Secret Service,” she said.

At a press conference on Sunday, Gooze thanked the donor for resolving the issue.  

“The donor wanted us to make public his/her sentiment that our town had done the right thing in asking the campaign to do its part,” he said.  “We are grateful for this generous offer.”

An emergency council meeting that had been planned for Monday morning to publicly debate the cost of the president’s trip was cancelled, averting what could have been a distracting sideshow to Obama’s event.

But the controversy is not entirely over.  The pro-Republican advocacy group Americans for Prosperity has filed a “right to know” request with the town administrators seeking to reveal the identity of the donor.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun072012

A 'Proud' Obama Makes Appeal to Gay Donors

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(LOS ANGELES) -- President Obama claimed the mantle of champion for the LGBT community Wednesday night, telling a group of 600 gay and lesbian donors at a star-studded fundraiser that he “could not be prouder” of his administration’s work to advance fairness and equality. 

From the effort to lift an HIV/AIDS travel ban, to the passage of a hate crimes law and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” Obama credited his friends and family, staff and military service members as the inspiration behind his advocacy for gay rights in the White House.

“It’s something that I’m personally very proud of,” he said of the accomplishments.

One of those sources of inspiration introduced Obama -- Dr. Vito Imbasciani, a urological surgeon and colonel in the U.S. Army National Guard who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Imabasciani, who is gay, explained that it was his commander-in-chief who allowed him to finally “be himself” after serving for 26 years.

“Until last year, the price of my service was to live a lie,” Imbasciani said.  “But not anymore.”

“Thanks to the unyielding efforts of President Obama I can serve my country openly with my family by my side,” he added, referring to the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.”  Imbasciani said he and his partner have two adopted children of Mexican descent.  

Citing “Vito’s story,” Obama said that his administration’s record of progress for gays and lesbians over the past three years is “just one more step” in a broader movement for greater equality for all Americans."

“It’s part of our history of trying to make this union a little bit more perfect,” the president said.  “In successive ways, the history, the scope of this country has always been to further broaden the meaning of citizenship, to include more and more people.  To give better and better expression to our highest aspirations, to make the country more fair, and more just and more equal.”

While the president did not specifically address his rival Mitt Romney’s record on gay rights, he did suggest the former Republican governor would be much less supportive.

There is a “fundamentally different vision about what’s going on,” Obama said of his opponent’s campaign.  “And a lot of this debate’s going to be about the economy, but also obviously there’s a different vision about how we create an inclusive America."

“I refuse to let anybody re-impose a law that would force Vito back into the shadows when he’s serving on our behalf and our safety and our security,” he continued to resounding applause.  “That’s not something I will tolerate.”

Romney, it should be noted, has not publicly called for re-imposing a ban on gays serving openly in the military.  During a November 2011 primary debate, Romney suggested that he would allow the repeal to stand, saying, “That’s already occurred and I’m not planning on reversing that at this stage.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

Romney Campaign Raffles Trump Meeting to Campaign Donors

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- They’re not your every-day lunch companions, but you too could have the chance to break bread with Donald Trump and Mitt Romney -- for a small price.

The Romney campaign launched a “Dine with the Donald” fundraising promotion on Thursday. In exchange for a contribution to Romney for president, the campaign is offering one lucky person the chance to win a fantasy day with Trump:

  • Airport transportation in a Trump vehicle
  • A stay at the Trump International Hotel & Tower New York
  • A tour of The Celebrity Apprentice boardroom
  • Opportunity to dine with Donald Trump and Mitt Romney

The winner will be flown to New York City (coach class) for the big day. According to the promotional website, the entire trip has an approximate retail value of $1,035, including a $35 lunch with Trump and Romney.

“As a counter to the Obama-George Clooney event, Mitt Romney has yet again called upon Mr. Trump to provide a little bit of excitement and star power for supporters of Gov. Romney,” said Trump’s top political aide, Michael Cohen. (Cohen was referring to a recent star-studded fundraiser actor George Clooney threw at his Southern California home for President Obama.)

The “Dine with the Donald” day will take place on June 28. That night Trump and Romney will also team up for a high-dollar fundraiser at The Pierre, a swanky New York City hotel.

“Donald Trump has been the single most significant surrogate for Governor Romney and has pledged his continued assistance to ensure that Obama is limited to being a one-term president,” Cohen said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar142012

Obama’s Top Campaign Bundlers Among State Dinner Guests

Getty Images/Comstock Images(WASHINGTON) -- More than three dozen of President Obama’s top re-election campaign financiers were guests at Wednesday night’s White House state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

They include Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, media mogul Fred Eychaner, Pfizer executive Sally Susman, Stoneyfield Farms president and CEO Gary Hirschberg, and Microsoft executives Suzi Levine and John Frank. Several have each raised more than half a million dollars for 2012, according to estimates provided by Obama’s campaign.

All told, 41 of the 364 expected attendees are Obama campaign bundlers, or volunteer fundraisers who give the legal maximum and then gather checks from friends and colleagues who do the same.

The group attending the dinner Wednesday night is responsible for at least $10.7 million of the roughly $250 million Obama and Democrats have amassed for the election cycle so far.

It’s not the first time Obama’s campaign donors have been spotted at a White House state dinner. In October, at least half a dozen attended the evening in honor of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Here’s the full list of donors attending Wednesday night's dinner, including the range of their contribution and employer, as listed by the Obama campaign:

  • Gerald Acker, Huntington Woods, Mich. – $200,000-$500,000 (Goodman Acker PC)
  • Mark Alderman, Bryn Mawr, Pa. – $200,000-$500,000 (Cozen & O’Connor)
  • Jean-Phillipe Austin, Miami, Fla. – $200,000-$500,000 (Physician)
  • Matthew Barzun, Louisville, Ky. – $500,000+ (Brickpath LLC)
  • Tom and Andrea Bernstein, New York, N.Y. – $500,000+ (Chelsea Piers Mgmt)
  • Neil Bluhm, Chicago, Ill. – $200,000-$500,000 (Walton Street Capital)
  • Wally Brewster, Jr., and Robert Satawake, Chicago, Ill. – $200,000-$500,000 (General Growth Properties/Keller Williams Realty)
  • Jim Crown, Chicago, Ill. – $200,000-$500,000 (Henry Crown & Co)
  • John Crumpler, Durham, N.C. – $500,000+ (Hatteras Venture Architects)
  • Meredith DeWitt, Harvard, Mass. – $200,000-$500,000 (Political Consultant)
  • Fred Eychaner, Chicago, Ill. – $500,000+ (Newsweb Corp)
  • Joseph Falk, Miami, Fla.  – $200,000-$500,000 (Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson)
  • Rajiv Kumar Fernando, Chicago, Ill. – $200,000-$500,000 (Chopper Trading)
  • John Frank, Bellevue, Wash. -- $500,000+ (Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft,)
  • William Freeman, Nashville, Tenn. – $100,000-$200,000 (Freeman Webb Co)
  • Lou Frillman, Seattle, Wash. – $200,000-$500,000 (GVA Marquette Advisors/Financial Designs Ltd)
  • Anthony Gardner, Washington, D.C. – $200,000-$500,000 (Palamon Captial Partners)
  • Chad Griffin, Los Angeles, Calif. – $100,000-$200,000 (Chad Griffin Consulting)
  • Samuel Heins and Stacey Mills, Wayzata, Minn. – $200,000-$500,000 (Heins, Mills & Olson)
  • Don Hinkle, Tallahassee, Fla. – $100,000-$200,000 (Hinkle & Foran)
  • Gary Hirshberg, Concord, N.H. – $100,000-$200,00 (Stonyfield Farm)
  • Barry Karas, Los Angeles, Calif. – $500,000+ (Perlman & Assoc/Actor)
  • Janet Keller, Laguna Beach, Calif. – $200,000-$500,000 (Consultant)
  • Charlie Kireker, Weybridge, Vt. – $200,000-$500,000 (Twin Birches)
  • Orin Kramer, New York, N.Y. – $500,000+ (Boston Provident)
  • Mai Lassiter, Los Angeles, Calif. – $200,000-$500,000 (Overbrook Entertainment)
  • Suzi Levine, Seattle, Wash. – $200,000-$500,000 (Microsoft)
  • Joe Liemandt, Austin, Texas – $100,000-$200,000 (Trilogy Enterprises Inc)
  • James Murray, Keene, Va. – $100,000-$200,000 (Greenbriar Square Property Management)
  • Susan Ness, Bethesda, Md. – $200,000-$500,000 (Susan Ness Strategies)
  • Michael Monroe Parham, Seattle, Wash. – $500,000+ (Realnetworks Inc)
  • Carol Pensky, Washington, D.C. – $200,000-$500,000 (Retired)
  • Ellen Richman, Greenwich, Conn. – $50,000-$100,000 (Richman Group)
  • John Scully, San Francisco, Calif. – $50,000-$100,000 (Spo Partners & Co)
  • Diana Shaw Clark, Washington, D.C. – $100,000-$200,000 (Writer)
  • Jay Snyder, New York, N.Y. – $200,000-$500,000 (HBJ Investments)
  • Sally Susman, New York, N.Y. – $500,000+ (Pfizer Inc)
  • John and Sandi Thompson, Woodside, Calif. – $200,000-$500,000 (Fenwick & West)
  • George Tsunis, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. – $200,000-$500,000 (Chartwell Hotels)
  • Harvey Weinstein, New York, N.Y. – $500,000+ (Weinstein Co)
  • Anna Wintour, New York, N.Y. — $500,000+ (Editor-in-Chief, Vogue Magazine)


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Obamas Dine in DC with Campaign Sweepstakes Winners

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President and Mrs. Obama Thursday evening took three lucky small-dollar campaign donors out to dinner in Washington, D.C., the prize in a campaign sweepstakes that offered “Dinner with Barack” for a gift of $5 or more.

The winners -- ReGina Newkirk, a nonprofit executive from Nashville, Tenn.; Cathleen Loringer, a former social worker from Wauwatosa, Wis.; and Judy Glassman, a retired school administrator from Cambridge, Mass. -- were each flown in with a guest of their choice to share in a meal and conversation with the president.

The first couple hosted the event at a newly-opened American bistro in the District’s northeast quarter, Boundary Road, which serves “simply, carefully prepared meals highlighting local ingredients in a comfortable and convivial atmosphere, with an exciting libation menu,” according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Among the libations is a featured cocktail called “I’m Thinking About Getting a Vespa,” which includes Aperol, Cocchi Americano, blood orange and sparkling wine. The menu features grilled hangar steak and seared arctic char with prices for entrees ranging from $16 to $23.

The event marks the third time Obama has hosted dinner with grassroots donors, and the first time Michelle Obama came along.

The Obama campaign says it sees the events as a way to highlight the significant financial contributions from grassroots supporters, and encourage more to open their wallets. Another “Dinner with Barack” sweepstakes is already under way on the campaign’s website.

Nearly half -- 48 percent -- of the $118 million total Obama raised for his reelection in 2011 came from donors of $200 or less in aggregate, according to an analysis by the Campaign Finance Institute.  The average donation was $55, according to the Obama campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio