President Barack Obama arrived Sunday in Los Angeles and went directly to the Beverly Hills home of DreamWorks Animation Chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, where he joined former President Bill Clinton in a private meeting with 12 deep-pocketed Democratic donors.
The Obama campaign said the meeting was scheduled to “thank supporters,” however two campaign finance committee members told THR that they were kept out of the loop on the closed-door event because it involved the pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA. A campaign spokeswoman, however, flatly denied that the meeting involved the super PAC.
In addition to being one of Obama’s key campaign fundraisers, Katzenberg personally contributed $2 million in seed money last year to Priorities USA.
On Sunday, members of the White House traveling press corps were allowed to accompany the president to Katzenberg’s Beverly Hills mansion, but were kept in the garage. (The pool dispatch noted that the reporters were sharing their space with an electric Nissan Leaf and an Audi.) The campaign said it would not provide a transcript of the meeting because it was an “informal” private event.
On the plane ride to Los Angeles, reporters asked White House spokesperson Jen Psaki about the small gathering. One reporter termed the meeting “unusual.”
Psaki responded: “We have actually done meetings or events with high-dollar donors who have maxed out or contributed a high amount to the campaign around other events before. So this is one of those events; it’s a thank-you event for a small group of donors.”
While there is a maximum amount donors can give to the campaign, there’s no limit to what they can give to super PACS. For the most part, Hollywood has stayed away from donating big dollars to Priorities USA.
Following the private gathering, Obama will travel to the Nokia Theater, where he’ll address a concert audience of 6,000 who have paid from $250 to $44 to hear Jon Bon Jovi, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry and Jennifer Hudson perform. George Clooney will introduce Wonder.
After the concert, the president will deliver remarks to 150 supporters who paid $25,000 each to join him for dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s WP24. Katzenberg played a key role in pulling that event together.
On Monday, October 8, President Obama will attend three fundraising events in San Francisco. In the afternoon, he will attend a small event with 25 attendees at the Intercontinental Hotel. Tickets for that event cost $40,000 per person. Then, the President will deliver remarks at a dinner hosted by chef Alice Waters for approximately 100 people at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, followed by remarks at a fundraising concert with approximately 6,000 attendees. John Legend and Michael Franti will perform. Tickets for the dinner run $20,000 and those for the concert start at $200 per person.