Obama's Overseas Fundraisers Spark GOP Ire

The reelection campaign's foreign fundraising activities -- including a recent event in China -- are drawing the same sort of intense criticism from the right as the president’s glitzy Hollywood fundraisers.

The Obama reelection campaign’s decision to globalize its fundraising activities is drawing the same sort of intense criticism from the right as the president’s glitzy domestic money-raising efforts featuring Hollywood celebrities.

Conservative reaction has been particularly intense to an event staged last week in Shanghai, China by media and marketing entrepreneur Robert Roche. Organized on behalf of the Obama Victory Fund, the Shanghai fundraiser solicited donations ranging from just $20 on up to $10,000. Roche, who is the former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, is a marketing and branding executive with high-level connections in the Chinese establishment. He also owns a television shopping operation in Japan. According to the local English-language newspaper, he “has committed to raising over $500,000 toward the Obama/Biden re-election campaign.”

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"While Obama tries to get America focused on the false claim that Romney outsourced jobs as the chief of Bain Capitol, what was the President doing? Why, outsourcing his fundraising, of course. Outsourcing it to Shanghai, China to be precise," a conservative commenter on community blog ChicagoNow wrote.

Critics contend that raising political money in foreign countries inevitably raises questions about a candidate’s connections to that nation’s politics and government. Even so, the usual U.S. election laws also apply to fundraising abroad—only U.S. citizens and permanent residents of America may donate and individual contributions are limited to $2,500. Similar questions, however, also have been raised about Mitt Romney’s largest donor, gaming mogul Sheldon Adelson, who derives substantial revenues from his Chinese casinos. Democrats also note that Romney will be fundraising on his trip to Israel. 

Last year, Obama’s reelection campaign raised $237,000 from American residents of Great Britain, $128,000 from U.S. expatriates in France and $113,000 from Americans living in Switzerland. This year, the Obama Victory Fund already has staged events in Paris, Cairo and Dublin.

The Shanghai event was the first ever held in China, but it’s likely to be eclipsed by one coming up next month that not only features a foreign venue, but a celebrity host. On Aug. 27, George Clooney will host a reception and dinner in Geneva, Switzerland, a sequel to an identical fundraiser he helped put together during Obama’s initial run for the White House. His co-hosts for this evening are Charles C. Adams, Jr., who heads the Geneva office Akin Gump, the well-connected, mainly Democratic law firm and lobbying powerhouse, and Matthew Barzun, former ambassador to Sweden and a leading Obama bundler. Tickets for the Geneva evening run from $1,000 to $30,000.

Just three days earlier, on August 24, Adams and Barzun will co-host a more budget-minded Obama fundraiser in Stockholm, Sweden. Tickets to that one are scaled from just $250 to a modest $450.