Feb. 11, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Nonstop Fundraising Stretch Starts

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel is frontlining multiple dinners, including one scheduled for tonight.

Democratic fundraiser Mike Fraioli had attended every one of his party's political conventions since 1980. Until this year.

It wasn't because he decided to slip away for an end-of-recess jaunt to the beach. Instead, he stayed in town getting ready for what might be one of the busiest, most grueling stretches to hit the D.C. fundraising scene.

"It is absolutely unbelievable the number of events that are scheduled in the next two weeks," Fraioli said. "It is just mind-blowing."

Members on both sides of the aisle and their professional fundraisers have squeezed in events from dawn until the wee hours of the morning. They're trying to extract every available dollar from the K Street and political action community in the remaining legislative days before Members shift all of their attention to the campaign trail.

House Democrats have slated no fewer than 184 fundraising shindigs between today and the end of the month, according to a directory put out by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Their GOP counterparts, according to a list from the National Republican Congressional Committee, have more than 110 breakfasts, coffees, lunches, dinners and receptions on the calendar. That doesn't include scores more Senate fundraisers and intimate industry-focused events not logged on the official lists.

Lobbyists say they are feeling the crush.

"The period of time that remains is going to be totally supercharged in terms of fundraising," said the OB-C Group's Larry O'Brien, a high-dollar donor to Democrats. "It's an absolute blizzard. A tsunami. It's completely and utterly intense."

Last week alone, Kathryn Lehman, a Republican partner at Holland & Knight, received at least 59 email invitations for September fundraisers. Many more, she said, were already deleted and couldn't be counted.

"There is a mad dash," said Lehman, who helps decide which candidates will receive the firm's PAC contributions. "The expectation is they're not going to be here in October, so that means you basically have to get it all done in September."

She added that she and her colleagues are evaluating which Members they've already donated to and which ones most need the cash. "A lot of it's based on client need and where you have relationships," she said.

GOP fundraiser Monica Notzon, a partner at the Bellwether Consulting Group, understands the pressure lobbyists like Lehman are under in the coming weeks. Not only is Notzon's firm helping organize fundraisers for incumbents, she also has some Congressional candidates who won late primaries circling through town looking for K Street cash.

"We have too many events to count," she said. "It's as busy as I've ever seen it on the Republican side. The good news is all of our events seem to be going well. There's a lot of enthusiasm."

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