Obama Taps Veteran Hollywood Bundlers for Campaign Cash

Sep 26, 2011 11:26am

President Obama will make a major withdrawal from his most reliable campaign cash machine today, attending three star-studded California fundraisers expected to dole out at least $2.8 million combined.

Obama lunches with 150 donors at the exclusive La Jolla home of Elizabeth and Mason Phelps, retirees and ardent Democratic supporters who each gave the legal maximum to Obama in 2008. Tickets start at $5,000 and top out at $35,800.

The president then flies to Los Angeles for a splashy concert at House of Blues in West Hollywood hosted by “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson and featuring performances by Grammy-nominated rapper B.O.B and the L.A. Gay Men’s Chorus. Organizers expect more than 1,000 attendees who each paid $250 or more for tickets.

Obama rounds out the day with a $17,900-a-plate dinner with 100 of his top Hollywood campaign financiers at Fig & Olive restaurant on Melrose Place.

The event is hosted by four veteran Obama bundlers: DreamWorks CEO and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, political consultant Andy Spahn, financial investor John Emerson and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. The four men raised at least $1.5 million combined for Obama in 2008.  They have already surpassed that amount for 2012, according to estimates provided by the Obama campaign.

Contributions collected at all three California events benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account of the Obama Campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The first $5,000 of an individual’s contribution goes to Obama; remainder, up to $30,800, goes to DNC.

With today’s events, the president has attended 51 campaign fundraisers this year, including 16 in the third quarter, which ends Friday. Since June, Obama has held more fundraisers in California, where he raised nearly 20 percent of his campaign funds in 2008, than in any other state.

The president adds millions of dollars in Hollywood cash to his coffers even as campaign aides try to downplay expectations for July, August and September fundraising totals.

They emphasize the cancellation of nearly a dozen events during the eight of the debt ceiling debate and the typical summer-month fundraising doldrums for a relatively modest $55 million target for the quarter.  (Obama raised $86 million the quarter before.)

Still, setting a low bar, and topping it, could be part of the plan to generate momentum headed into the fall.  The third quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission is due October 15.

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