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Obama Event to Raise Just $3M for Hill Democrats

Thursday night’s joint Democratic fundraiser headlined by President Barack Obama is expected to bring in a total of $3 million for the two Democratic campaign committees, according to a party strategist familiar with the event.

The figure is surprisingly low considering Obama’s vaunted fundraising ability during the 2008 presidential campaign and the fact that this is the first joint fundraiser benefiting Congressional Democrats since the party regained control of the White House. It’s also about $11.5 million less than what GOP officials said they raised last week for the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee at a dinner featuring former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

But Democratic insiders point out that the dinner is on par with a May Obama event for the Democratic National Committee in Los Angeles that brought in $3 million to $4 million.

And the Gingrich event and Obama dinner numbers may not offer an exact comparison.

The Obama dinner “is not bringing in the money that [Democratic officials] hoped, but at least they’re transparent about what they’re raising and how they are raising it,” one former Democratic leadership aide said this week.

Party operatives point out that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are operating their dinner under Obama’s fundraising ground rules, meaning that unlike the GOP event, donations from registered lobbyists and political action committees are barred from the dinner.

Another factor that may have played into the less-than-spectacular fundraising total for the DCCC/DSCC dinner is the fact that Obama never released a personal appeal on behalf of the Congressional committees.

While the White House has consented to putting Obama’s name on some political solicitations — including an e-mail on Monday to raise money for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds — the DSCC/DCCC dinner never earned a separate appeal from the party’s campaigner in chief.

But perhaps more importantly, Democrats and Republicans appear to be counting their totals differently when it comes to their dinners.

Democrats will report the vast majority of the money they raise off ticket sales for the Obama event in a separate joint fundraising account. Some online fundraising and other individuals contributions will appear in the Democratic committee accounts.

The NRSC and NRCC also have a joint fundraising account, but the lion’s share of the $14.45 million they attributed to the dinner will never appear in that account and will stay in the individual committees’ accounts.

That’s because the two Republican committees counted all the money they raised over an eight-week period since the committees’ spring dinners in early April toward the $14.45 million total they released last week.

As such, part of that total includes the $2.9 million the NRSC reported raising in its April monthly Federal Election Commission report. Likewise, the dinner total includes the $2.2 million the NRCC reported in its April report.

In addition, an NRCC aide said the $7.2 million the committee raised from the dinner includes pledges made by donors during the eight-week period that may not have come in yet.

An NRSC aide said the $7.25 million total did not include pledges.

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