Obama Raises $4 Million in Southern California for Reelection Campaign and DNC

President Obama State of the Union - H 2012
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President Obama State of the Union - H 2012

President taps into big-money finance and Asian-American communities in a two-day sweep.

President Barack Obama wrapped up a two-day fundraising swing through Southern California Thursday, having collected $4 million during a trio of events designed to cement his reelection campaign’s ties with younger voters and the area’s business and legal communities.

The Democratic National Committee’s Southern California finance chairman, John Emerson and Ken Solomon, confirmed the total to The Hollywood Reporter. The complete breakdown is yet to be released, but in all likelihood only a portion of that sum came from Hollywood sources.

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These fundraisers, in fact, were not meant for only the entertainment industry’s high-rollers, though a scattering of stars—including longtime Obama fan George Clooney—attended a Wednesday night dinner at the Holmby Hills home of soap opera producer Bradley Bell and his wife Colleen. The dinner was preceded by a concert for young givers featuring a performance by the Foo Fighters.

The intent of Wednesday's gathering was not only to raise money but also give Obama an opportunity to network with leaders from other sectors and industries in Los Angeles. And, according to Emerson, the effort turned out better than expected. “We blew well past our goal,” he said.

Among those attending the $35,800-per-person dinner were Oaktree Capital co-founder and president Bruce Karsh and his wife Martha, Barry Porter from Clarity Partners, and Joe Calabrese of O'Melveny and Myers.

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After the dinner, THR has learned, Obama had a private meeting at the Bell home with a dozen members of Southern California's Asian-American community. The small gathering included Miky Lee, the vice chair woman of CJ Corp., a subsidary of Samsung. (She flew in for the event from Seoul, Korea, where she splits her time.) Lee, an American citizen, is best known as the Korean heiress who persuaded her family company to invest $300 million in DreamWorks SKG. The private meeting with Obama also included Brian Lee, co-founder of LegalZoom.com, and Ted Kim, head of US operations for CJ Corp.

The Hollywood crowd included co-hosts Nicole Avant and Ted Sarandos, James Belushi, Will Ferrell and his wife Viveca Paulia, Mike and Irena Medavoy and Cynthia Sikes Yorkin.

One of the things frequently overlooked in the campaign journalism’s preoccupation with Hollywood is that—important as the entertainment industry may be—greater Los Angeles with its diverse business community has emerged as the president’s third most lucrative fundraising base. (According the Center for Responsive Politics, more than $4 million was raised in Los Angeles for Obama last year, making the city one of the president's most important fundraising locals.)

It isn’t just a story about Hollywood “opening its wallets” when the president comes to Southern California these days, though there will be an exclusive Hollywood-centered super fundraiser this spring at the home of DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Democrats major entertainment industry giver in this election cycle.

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After a night at the Beverly Hilton, the president traveled south to Corona Del Mar on Thursday to attend a fundraising breakfast at the home of Jeff and Nancy Stack. Tickets were priced at $2,500 a person. Thursday afternoon, Obama is set to move on to San Francisco, where he’ll appear at an exclusive event at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. The expected crowd of about 20 paid $35,800 apiece to meet the president there.

Tonight, he will attend a fundraising dinner with 70 supporters at a private home in San Francisco, followed by a fundraising reception at the Nob Hill Masonic Center, which is expected to draw 2,500, mostly young people and will feature a musical performance by Chris Cornell. Tickets for the dinner cost $35,800, with $5,000 going to Obama's reelection campaign and $30,800 going to the DNC. Tickets for the reception start at $100.

Obama dines with 70 supporters at the residence of novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and wife, Nicola Miner.  Tickets are again $35,800 apiece. (Singer Al Green will reportedly attend. No word on a possible Obama-Green duet.)