Obama Courts Private Equity Cash at New York Fundraiser

The Associated Press

On the same day his campaign launched an attack on Mitt Romney's record in private equity, President Obama is attending a big-dollar fundraiser at the Manhattan home of one of the industry's top figures.

Hamilton "Tony" James - the president of the Blackstone Group, the nation's largest private equity firm - is hosting a $35,800-a-head dinner for Obama, with 60 Democratic allies expected to attend, according to a campaign official. Many in attendance are expected to have ties to the private equity sector.

James donated $35,800 - the legal maximum to Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee - in November 2011, according to Federal Election Commission filings. He was also a guest of the Obamas' at the most recent White House state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister David Cameron, joining more than three dozen of Obama's campaign bundlers who also attended.

The Obama campaign has been critical of other Blackstone executives - those who have donated to Mitt Romney's campaign - accusing them of "betting against America" and doing "less-than-reputable" deals that resulted in outsourcing and layoffs. It has not singled out James for criticism, though the company profited from many of those practices under his leadership.

"No one is questioning the private equity industry as a whole," deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told reporters today. "This is about values Romney lived by as a businessman and the values he promises to live by as president," she said.

Before attending the James event, Obama will headline a fundraiser at the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea with supporters from the LGBT and Latino communities, co-hosted by singer Ricky Martin.

The roughly 200 guests for the event each paid $5,000 to attend, according to a campaign official. All proceeds from both fundraisers benefit the Obama Victory Fund - a joint account of the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and several state Democratic parties.