Aides to Republicans, Democrats Offered Up to Donors
Just a few blocks apart tonight, Senate Democrats and Republicans are hosting separate big-dollar fund-raising events but with the exact same drawing card: the guys (and gals) behind the guys (and gals).
Both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are holding fundraisers where the guests of honor are not the senators, but instead the lawmakers' chiefs of staff.
As Capitol Briefing noted back in June, dinners of this sort are part of a new tactic by the national party campaign committees - particularly Democrats - to offer lobbyists and large donors access to a large group of top staffers in one big room. All for the right sized donation, of course.
Many of the smartest lobbyists and donors would actually prefer to talk to the chiefs of staff instead of the senators, because many of them are more up to date on the issues of concern than their bosses.
Of the two campaign committees, the NRSC is definitely throwing the more lavish event - and is being more explicit about its access to the chiefs of staff. Its event is being held in the spacious Columbus Room of Washington's Union Station, just a few blocks from the Capitol. And across the top of the invitation, guests are told they are "invited to a reception honoring", followed by the list of all 49 chiefs of staff to Senate Republicans.
Almost as an afterthought comes a list of "special guests", which includes -- fittingly -- the nation's single most important top staffer: White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten. Also on hand will be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and 13 other GOP senators. Raising money for the NRSC has become a major concern for McConnell, who convened today's weekly Republican policy lunch at the NRSC's headquarters to talk overtly about political strategy and to strongarm his colleagues to raise more money for the committee.
Last week the NRSC reported having raised $23.4 million for the first nine months of 2007, with $8.3 million cash left in its war chest. The DSCC has raised more than $42 million this year and has $22.9 million on hand.
The DSCC invitation does not specifically list its chiefs of staff as the guests of honor, perhaps because Capitol Briefing published this memorable invitation sent out to a similar event in July on which their presence was touted as "individuals representing" senators. But multiple sources have confirmed that tonight's "Oktoberfest" party is another in their semi-regular events honoring the top staffers at the DSCC's Stewart Mott House a block-and-a-half from the Capitol.
Perhaps in a sign of the political and financial times, the DSCC is charging more for tickets to its event than the NRSC is charging.
To be considered a "host" at the Democratic event, it requires a donation of $2,000 to the DSCC. For "host" status at the GOP event, an individual donor need simply write a check for $1,000.
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