PDF's of donor packages from the Democratic National Committee, DSCC and DCCC at end of column....
Since the column below ran in the print Chicago Sun-Times on Monday, the Obama campaign announced that 10 low dollar donors--$5 or more--who donate between Monday and July 31 will be flown to Denver and treated to two days and nights at the convention--with a guest. They will be able to meet Obama backstage and watch his acceptence speech in a 75,000-seat stadium. But that effort for 10--get that only 10--contributors from the more than a million small Obama campaign donors---pales in comparison to the large operation in place to stroke the big dollar fund-raisers who provide the bulk of campaign money for the Obama campaign and other Democratic candidates.
WASHINGTON -- For top Democratic donors, the convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver in August means access to hard-to-get credentials, VIP parties, special briefings, concierge service and coveted rooms in the city's top hotels.
While presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama likes storylines to focus on micro donors, the Democratic apparatus he sits on top of is dependent on big fund-raisers who can deliver -- and in turn want to be treated well at the convention. Obama's campaign finance operation will be running a VIP convention operation, with at least 300 rooms in the best hotels in Denver set aside for its very top bundlers.
The donors have to pay their way to Denver and the hotel tab.
The Republicans will also be using their convention, in Minneapolis-St. Paul in September, to reward their best donors. Both parties for years have put together donor "packages," with what you get dependent on what you give or raise.
Obama will not accept donations from federal lobbyists or political action committees, and once he became the all-but-certain nominee and took control of the Democratic National Committee, he extended the ban to the DNC. But the other party committees -- the House and Senate political operations -- have no such ban.
Each Democratic political operation has put together donor packages.
The top level of givers to the DNC, who contributed $110,400 or raised $200,000 between Feb. 1, 2005, and June 15, get "preferred booking" at one of the premier hotels in Denver and VIP credentials to all convention proceedings, and passes to donor lounges, parties and other events.
The DNC was also running a VIP program for PACs that contributed at least $60,000 during that period. That was to get a reservation to a hotel room at a donor hotel, credentials to the convention floor, and invites to selected other finance events. I don't know how the DNC will make good on the PAC packages in the wake of the PAC ban.
The DNC also has a "Chairman's Club" with perks for smaller players, people who have contributed $57,000 or raised $100,000 from Jan. 1, 2007, through June 15. This will get a hotel room, floor credentials, invites to selected events and the finance lounges at the Pepsi Center.
The lowest level is the DNC "Rocky Mountain" program for $28,500 donors to the party in 2008. That gets you -- maybe, based on availability -- a hotel room, credentials and some finance events.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee elite donors --who contributed or raised $100,000 in personal funds in 2008 -- get to be in the "Pelosi 100" program, entitled to a "preferred" hotel room, four credentials for Pepsi Center proceedings, access to hospitality rooms and skyboxes at the Pepsi Center, four tickets to an event honoring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and separate events honoring House leaders, female House members, VIP briefings and -- get this -- the services of a "DCCC concierge."
The DCCC scales back the perk packages depending on the giving level: A $28,500 donor this year gets a room reservation and just two credentials and invites to special events. An "upgrade" is available if a person gives or raises $10,000 to Democratic House candidates on the DCCC "red to blue" list, the most competitive races. The cheapest way to get a credential for Denver is to give or raise $7,500 to the DCCC, which will get you a seat on the floor, but no swell parties.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee set the highest bar for entry into its elite priority convention network, with a person having to donate or raise $200,000 between Jan. 1, 2007, and June 30. But in a note Tom Lopach, the DSCC national finance director sent to fund-raisers, he said "additional consideration will be given to those who raise above and beyond'' the different package price tags.