The Obama 2012 presidential campaign refuses to release its fundraising totals for individual events involving the president, keeping a dark curtain over one the least savory aspects of campaigning for the nation’s highest office.
The hiding of Obama’s fundraising event totals is inconsistent with the pledge of openness that has been a watchword of Obama’s campaigns and presidency. And the omission is particularly glaring given its contrast with past practices.
According to veteran CBS White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, who meticulously tracks various presidential metrics and frequently reports about them at Political Hotsheet, while Obama never releases his fundraising totals, George W. Bush did.
“The Bush Campaign routinely told reporters how much money it expected to raise at any given event,” Knoller said. “Not so the Obama campaign.”
The Obama campaign does release cumulative totals at the end of each quarter. And, as Knoller notes, it is sometimes possible to deduce the total take at an event from ticket prices – which are often revealed – and the number of people expected at an event.
But even then, it can be hard to know the total raised, because tickets are often described in a range of prices, and it is not always clear that everyone in attendance paid the exact amount of the “ticket” – or even if they were allowed to sit in gratis. And reporters often fail to do the addition, resulting in far less publicity for the fundraising total.
With Obama’s emphasis on battling for “the 99 percent,” the Obama campaign has tremendous incentive to downplay the millions the president can collect in a single evening from well heeled patrons in wealthy liberal bastions like Hollywood and New York City.
Obama frequently holds intimate events with small groups of extravagantly rich donors who fork over the maximum $35,800 for the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign. At least one event this year has maxed out at $45,000, with donors throwing in a donation to Democratic state efforts as well.
Obama has what is likely to be a big-ticket fundraiser this evening, traveling to a private residence in Washington to pass the hat around.
Even the announcement of a fundraising event is obscured by the White House. The official schedule never bills a fundraiser as as fundraiser. Instead, it says – as it does for tonight’s gathering – that Obama is slated to be at “a campaign event,” which to the untrained eye could mean a speech or a rally. But each of these are actually fundraisers.
What’s more, if Obama does not deliver formal remarks at the event, there is no transcript of anything he says, and the event is closed to the press.
The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment on why it refuses to release the fundraising totals.