Obama’s Fundraiser List Underscores Importance of Large Checks

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, July 11, 2011. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign has stressed the importance of relatively small donations from hundreds of thousands of people. The list of fundraisers it voluntarily released yesterday underscores the significance of those who write checks for up to $35,800.

The campaign released a list of 244 individuals and couples who have raised $50,000 or more so far for Obama’s re-election bid, showcasing his support from Wall Street to Hollywood. The group can account for at least $34.95 million of the more than $86 million raised through June 30.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, pointing to how former President George W. Bush released the names of his fundraisers, called on the 2012 Republican field of candidates to do the same. A failure to do so raises “questions about the extent to which Washington lobbyists and special interests are funding their campaigns,” LaBolt said in a statement.

The so-called bundlers, people who solicit campaign contributions from their personal networks and communities, include Jon Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. chief executive officer and New Jersey governor; Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg; Blair Effron, co-founder of investment bank Centerview Partners; and Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour.

Also on the list are Ari Emanuel, the brother of Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a Hollywood talent agent; Comcast Corp. executive David Cohen; and Orin Kramer of Boston Provident Partners LP.

The campaign has emphasized that more than 550,000 donors have given to the president’s re-election effort with an average donation of $69. Individuals can contribute up to $35,800, with the first $5,000 going to the campaign and the rest to the Democratic National Committee.

$500,000 or More

Obama’s list of fundraisers includes 27 individuals and couples who have already brought in $500,000 or more for the campaign, or a joint committee with the DNC that is designed to boost his re-election efforts.

In Chicago, Obama’s hometown and the location of his re-election headquarters, fundraisers include Les Coney, an executive vice president at Chicago-based Mesirow Financial; John Rogers, chairman of Chicago-based Ariel Investments LLC; Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm, managing principal of Chicago-based Walton Street Capital LLC and chairman of a new casino operation opening this month in suburban Chicago; entrepreneur and philanthropist Fred Eychaner, who supported Hillary Clinton in 2008 and is one of the nation’s top Democratic donors; and Penny Pritzker, who led Obama’s 2008 fundraising efforts.

2008 Campaign

By the end of his last campaign, about 560 people had raised at least $50,000 for Obama, according to a list kept by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

Obama’s campaign haul, announced on July 13, sets a record for the second quarter of a non-election year and eclipses the combined take of the 2012 Republican field.

In the 2008 campaign, California was home to the largest number of Obama bundlers, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. There were 97 from California, 86 from Illinois and 82 from New York.

An Upper West Side zip code in Manhattan, 10024, was Obama’s top overall fundraising zip code in 2008, accounting for $2.8 million, followed by the $2.5 million from Chicago’s 60614 zip code, which includes the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood on the north side, according to the center’s data.

Such detailed data for this election cycle will start to become available once Obama’s quarterly filing is analyzed in the coming weeks.

Obama for America

Obama’s fundraising total is a combination of money collected by Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, including contributions received by the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee run by the two entities. Obama for America, the president’s re-election campaign committee, collected more than $47 million, while the DNC’s take was more than $38 million, the campaign has said.

Obama, 49, has maintained a fundraising schedule that has included almost 30 donor events since January for his campaign, his party, or both, as he tries to balance partisanship with the presidency at a time when the nation faces 9.2 percent unemployment, a debate over the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit, and military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Obama raised a record $745 million in 2007-08 and was the first major-party nominee to reject public financing for the general election. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager and a former deputy White House chief of staff, has sought to knock down predictions that the president will raise $1 billion for the 2012 campaign.

Medicare, Social Security

At Obama’s campaign headquarters, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee yesterday delivered what were described as 200,000 individual pledges threatening to pull campaign support if the president cuts entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the Associated Press reported.

“Americans elected the president in 2008 to take on the big challenges facing our country, and he’s engaged in an effort to do just that, promoting a balanced approach to reduce the deficit and promote economic growth that protects the middle class and seniors,” LaBolt responded in a statement.

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