The big donor fundraiser is completely alien to the majority of Americans, but it’s long been a staple of campaigns for federal office. Rich people cram into another rich person’s living room or a restaurant, pay obscene amounts of money, and are fed a dinner that could not possibly be worth thousands of dollars in order to support the candidate of their choice. While candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have rejected big donor fundraisers, most other candidates have embraced them.
Last month, the New York Times reported that Booker, Gillibrand, Harris and Klobuchar were all “particularly aggressive on the national donor circuit.” At that time, just three weeks ago, the O’Rourke campaign told the Times that they had no plans to host fundraisers.
Well, now it’s April, and plans change, okay? According to the Times’ Shane Goldmacher, Beto will host his first fundraiser for big donors on May 13.
Individuals can only donate up to $2,800 each due to campaign finance law, but hosts for these fundraisers are expected to raise up to $25,000 from others. $250 gets you in the door; 100 times that amount gets you a higher level of access to the candidate at the “host committee reception.” Pretty cool, if you can shell out nearly three grand to hear Beto O’Rourke speak and have a bunch of friends able and willing to do the same. American democracy: It’s cool, and it’s working great.
Last week, the Intercept reported that O’Rourke had already violated his pledge not to accept donations from lobbyists, and had taken money from others who are not technically registered lobbyists; the CEO of Subject Matter, which “represents corporate clients, such as health insurance giant UnitedHealth and oil giant BP,” donated to his campaign.
Beto can’t control who donates to his campaign (though he can return donations), but when a lobbyist thinks their cash might be well spent on you—and doesn’t see your policy proposals or ideology as anathema—that’s a bad sign.