Obama’s Fundraising In Calif. Is Over-The-Top, Some Republicans Charge

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — President Obama will return to the Southland for his 21st visit to Los Angeles or Orange counties since taking office in 2009 but some Republicans charge that he’s using California as a “campaign ATM.”

As KCAL9’s Dave Bryan reports, preparations are underway at a home in Santa Monica in preparation for another on Thursday where Obama will join a roundtable discussion with entertainment industry executives and other supporters who will pay more than $33,000 per couple. The proceeds are expected to go to the Democratic National Committee.

“Hollywood is not the biggest supporter of the president or the Democratic National Committee but they are among the biggest supporters,” Ted Johnson, a senior editor for Variety, said.

This week’s Santa Monica event will be Obama’s 32nd fundraiser in L.A. County since he became president. Bill Clinton had 36 in the county when he was in office and Republicans George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan each had eight fundraisers in the county during the first six years of their administration. George H.W. Bush had 10 and Jimmy Carter attended six in L.A. County during their single terms as president.

“We’ve got a lot of money and for folks back East right now, you’ve got fabulous weather, so it’s a delicious cocktail for these politicians when they come in and they can sweep in and they can raise, frankly, an astronomical amount of money in a very short time,” Fiona Hutton, a political consultant, said.

But even by the standards of other recent presidents, some Republicans charge President Obama’s California fundraising is over-the-top.

“He kind of sees California as his personal ATM machine. We have a lot of problems in California,” said Mark Vafiades, Chair, L.A. County Republican Party. “And, yet, President Obama comes here to raise money, to play golf, and to hang out with his late-night friends on late-night talk shows.”

“We think he should be, you know, in Washington, dealing with some of these problems with the Iran nuclear crisis, with ISIS,” Vafiades said.

But Hutton says that’s nothing more than politically expedient criticism since she believes Republicans do exactly the same thing in red states with GOP money.

“I think if the RNC had a candidate that was strong right now and wanted to sweep through California and do fundraisers on a very regular basis, they would jump at that opportunity,” Hutton said. “And, you know, the Republicans will be doing that in the states where they have a greater opportunity.”

Nonetheless, Johnson believes Hollywood’s donor base may be getting tapped out at least momentarily.

“I do think that there is donor-fatigue within Hollywood. We’re coming off a midterm election where the president was out here multiple times. There were many fundraisers for a number of candidates and the Democrats didn’t do that well, so I think, probably for a number of donors, they just want to take a breather,” Johnson said.

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