Obama to Headline DSCC, DCCC Event

Posted April 20, 2009 at 6:35pm

House and Senate Democratic fundraising committees will not take contributions from lobbyists and trade associations for an upcoming event headlined by President Barack Obama.

According to a Democratic aide, Obama’s campaign pledge to not take money from influence peddlers will extend to a planned June 18 fundraiser he is headlining for the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“Our understanding is that the president’s restrictions will apply to any of his direct fundraising,— the aide said.

Officials at both campaign committees declined to discuss the fundraiser, and its location remained unknown Monday.

In March, Obama hosted a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee that also barred lobbyist and political action committee contributions, although it presumably had little effect since the party committee already had sworn off lobbyists’ cash.

Still, downtown largess remains an important revenue stream for the House and Senate committees.

For example, of the $176.2 million raised by the DCCC in the previous cycle, roughly $11 million came from PACs and candidate committees, according to CQ MoneyLine.

But with a popular president and Democrats back in control of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue after a 14-year hiatus, there’s likely to be no shortage of non-lobbyist donors lining up to cut checks to the committees at the event.

Mike Fraioli, a Democratic fundraiser, said the DSCC and DCCC had little trouble getting wealthy donors to cough up six-figure checks with a Republican in the White House.

“Why give up now?— he asked. “For eight years, you’ve been having individuals giving with, at best, a presidential hopeful. Now they’ve got the real deal.—

Last cycle, the DCCC raised about $60 million from individuals.

The last Democratic administration played a key role in raising money for the Democratic fundraising committees. In 2001, then-Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), a former chairman of the DSCC, told Roll Call that President Bill Clinton had been “an incalculable asset in raising funds— for the DSCC in the 2000 cycle.

“Bill Clinton spent more time at DSCC events than many members of the Democratic Caucus,— the Garden State lawmaker said at the time.

In a recent interview, Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf, a one-time aide to ex-Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), agreed that both Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore “raised a lot of money for the DSCC and DCCC— and that the party faithful will expect the same from the current White House.

“There’s going to be a lot of pressure on the Obama White House to help the party and help the Congress,— he said.

In March, the Democrats’ House and Senate campaign committees raised a combined $15 million, while their Republican counterparts raked in a combined $10 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

The DCCC raised about $10.2 million in March but also spent about $9.8 million during a month that ended with the still-undecided special election in New York’s 20th district. As of March 31, the House committee had $3.34 million in cash on hand and $8 million in debt.

The DSCC raised $5 million in March and spent about $1.5 million. The Senate committee posted $7.2 million in cash on hand but nearly $10.9 million in debt as of March 31.

The DCCC spending reflects its effort to pay down a large chunk of debt during March, while the DSCC did not pay down any significant portion of its debt left over from the 2008 campaigns. The DCCC reported $15 million in debt at the end of February, while the DSCC reported $10.9 million in debt at the same time.

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $5.27 million last month, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee took in $4.94 million. The NRCC more than doubled its take from February, while the NRSC nearly doubled what it reported raising in the previous month.

The House Republicans’ campaign arm had $3.2 million in the bank, with $5 million in debt at the end of last month. The NRSC will report $2.27 million in cash on hand as of March 31, with $1 million debt.

Shira Toeplitz and John McArdle contributed to this report.