Bush Headlines GOP Fund Raiser

"I think it not only doesn't look right, it's also hypocrisy," says Scott Harshbarger, president of the citizens group Common Cause. "These are the very people who criticized the Democrats for doing it."

Democrats have also been quick to point out that President Clinton stopped attending such donor maintenance events on government property — which the vice-presidential residence surely is — in 1996, after the campaign finance scandals broke.

In the 2000 campaign, candidates Bush and Cheney criticized the Clinton-Gore administration for using the White House for receptions and sleepovers for Democratic donors.

"There's a fine line between allowing a friend to come, or inviting a friend that you've known for a long time who may be a contributor, as opposed to renting out the Lincoln Bedroom in order to raise money," Bush said on CNN during the campaign.

On Tuesday, the White House defended its actions as proper, saying the Clinton administration raised donations on a far more organized and broader scale.

"They used the White House for the ability to get more money out of people," Fleischer said. "This is just a way to say thank you."

After the gala, the president and his party will be saying thank you to some of the most powerful people in the country — for about $22 million in donations.

ABCNEWS' Elizabeth Wilner and John Martin contributed to this report.

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