Twenty-seven fund-raisers collected more than $500,000 each in contributions for President Obama and the Democratic Party in the past three months, helping Mr. Obama collect a record haul of campaign cash as he starts his re-election effort.
Other political news of note
Immigration bill clears hurdle with approval by Senate committee
Updated 82 minutes ago 5/22/2013 12:15:27 AM +00:00 A sweeping bill to overhaul the nation's immigration system cleared its first major hurdle late Tuesday night, with the 18-member committee charged with completing a first round of legislative edits voting to advance the amended bill to the full Senate.
- Leahy withholds amendment to include LGBT couples in immigration reform
- IRS official to invoke Fifth Amendment at hearing
- With high-tech visa compromise, immigration reform proponents win GOP ally
- A new disaster sparks an old debate on federal aid
- Immigration bill clears hurdle with approval by Senate committee
The list of Mr. Obama’s biggest bundlers, which was posted on the president’s campaign Web site on Friday, is filled with celebrities and the well-connected, like Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul; Andy Spahn, a close friend and consultant to Steven Spielberg, the moviemaker; and Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue.
More than 200 other people scooped up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each in contributions for the president. Collectively, they raised at least $35 million for Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee, or about 40 percent of the $86 million he reported for the quarter.
Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, said this week that the president’s re-election effort was largely a grass-roots affair financed by hundreds of thousands of donors whose contributions averaged just $69 each.
“Ninety-eight percent of all donations that came in were $250 or less,” Mr. Messina bragged in a video released to supporters.
Those numbers, and Mr. Obama’s success at tapping small donors using the Internet, mask another skill: the president’s ability to recruit wealthy supporters who have even wealthier friends.
As he begins his 2012 campaign, Mr. Obama is pushing for even bigger big-time contributions. Former President George W. Bush reported bundlers who raised $200,000 or more. Mr. Obama’s report adds a new top level: $500,000 and above.
The Sunlight Foundation, which tracks campaign contributions, called Mr. Obama’s bundler list “a veritable Rolodex of the rich and powerful across the country — among them you’ll notice a C.E.O., editor, former politician and even a former lobbyist.”
Officials noted that the amounts raised by Mr. Obama’s top bundlers included contributions to the Democratic Party, which are not subject to the same individual limits that apply to people giving directly to the president’s campaign. And they were quick to point out that the Republican candidates for president had not released their list of bundlers.
“President Bush disclosed his bundlers, but the current G.O.P. field has not followed suit, raising questions about the extent to which special interests are funding their campaigns,” said Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman. “More than 552,000 Americans have funded ours.”
Even so, the extent of the big-dollar contributions flowing into the president’s campaign account is significant.
Because the amount each bundler gathers is reported in a range — from $50,000 to $100,000, for example — it is impossible to know exactly how much the 244 people have collected. It is possible that their totals represent close to half of all the money the president has raised so far for the “victory fund” operated jointly by his campaign and the party’s national committee.
The Republican National Committee quickly seized on the numbers to question Mr. Obama’s grass-roots claims.
“President Obama wants voters to believe he’s running a grass-roots campaign, but it’s clear the hope-and-change president is bought and paid for by liberal fat-cat donors,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party.
This article, "Obama’s Haul: Big Money From Big Donors," first appeared in The New York Times.
Copyright © 2013 The New York Times