WASHINGTON--Days before the Illinois primary, President Barack Obama returns to Chicago on March 16 on a fund-raising swing. One high end event is a lunch at the Palmer House Hilton in the Loop.
"Lawyers for Obama invite you to join President Barack Obama for a lunch with supporters like you in Chicago," reads the invite. The tab is $35,800 to be a lunch chair; $25,000 to be a host with "campaign discussion and preferred seating" ; $10,000 for just preferred seating and $2,500 just for the lunch.
Obama returns just before the March 20 Illinois primary.
The proceeds go to the Obama Victory Fund 2012: that's the combined Obama 2012 campaign headquartered in Chicago and the Democratic National Committee.
April Harley, the Illinois specialist on the Obama finance team, is quarterbacking the event. The Obama 2012 campaign Illinois Finance co-chairs are Vicki Heyman, John Rogers and Neil Bluhm
Obama was last in Chicago on Jan. 11, for a series of fund-raising events: a concert fund-raiser at the University of Illinois-Chicago featuring actor Hill Harper and R&B star Janelle Monae and two high-end events--a $35,800-per couple dinner at the North Side home of businessman Fred Eychaner, a major donor to Democratic organizations, campaigns and "SuperPacs," and a reception in Hyde Park at the home of Evonne and Stuart Taylor, who is the managing partner of The Taylor Group, a private equity firm who is CEO of one of its holdings, Analytic Innovations.
The Obama fund-raisers have created several perks to woo Chicago donors, one being the "Chicago Leadership Circle" formed earlier this year. For a flat donation of $5,000 or a monthly payment option--in $1,000 chunks--a donor can get a access to a variety of events.
The marketing strategy is this: leverage the flow of political operatives coming to headquarters to involve donors in briefings and other events. The most elite Obama fund-raisers--his National Leadership Council--already routinely get briefing sessions at their quarterly meetings with top Obama administration and campaign officials.
The campaign already sends out a string of high profile surrogates on the campaign trail; the council seems a cost-effective strategy to make money off of folks who are coming to Chicago anyway. One of the challenges for Illinois Obama fund-raisers is to widen the circle of donors for 2012--and get 2008 contributors who have not written checks yet jazzed up enough to put down some campaign cash.