Reporting Jason DeRusha
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – On Friday, President Barack Obama will be in Minneapolis, visiting the Honeywell campus, but he’s also raising money. And tickets to his fundraiser can cost up to $40,000 a pop.
Who can afford to go to something like that, and what does that expensive ticket buy?
“The Democrats and Republicans both do this, and everybody likes money for their political operations,” said Brian Melendez, the former chair of the Minnesota DFL Party. Melendez hosted countless political fundraisers during his time as chair.
To get into the fundraiser, it takes a $5,000 donation. But to get time with the president, that costs the real money — the $40,000 donation.
“You’ll get a number of different types of people at the event,” Melendez said. “There are certain people who can write a big check without thinking about it, and everybody who can write a $40,000 check on the Democratic side will be here.”
These are people who want to meet with the president and are happy to write a check to support his campaign.
The second category of attendees includes representatives of organizations who are big supporters of the candidate.
“You do have some organizations that can write a $40,000 check,” he said, including labor unions or business groups.
The final group of attendees is often made up of so-called bundlers.
“You do have people who can’t write a $40,000 check themselves, but they can get 40 of their friends to write a $1000 check, and they’re gonna be there too,” Melendez said.
According to Melendez, it takes a big draw like the president to get so much money in Minnesota, as most fundraisers top off in the $10,000 range.
Legally, the full $40,000 can’t all go to the Barack Obama re-election campaign. Individual donors can give $2,500 to a candidate, and $2,500 to another fund that pays for legal expenses of a campaign.
Typically the money gets split between the campaign as well as national and state political party committees.
The fundraiser will be at The Bachelor Farmer, the new Minneapolis restaurant owned by Gov. Mark Dayton’s two sons.
“It’s a really good restaurant, just a coincidence it’s owned by the governor’s sons,” Melendez said, laughing.
So what do people get for their money?
“I would say that in this case, what you get is an extraordinary opportunity to spend time with President Obama in an intimate setting,” said Eric Dayton, one of the owners of The Bachelor Farmer.
“While we’re obviously putting a lot of thought and care into the menu, we recognize that our food will not be the main focus of guests at Friday’s event,” he said, noting that they’ll serve a three-course lunch.
Typically, dinner at The Bachelor Farmer will run you far less than $40,000, of course.
Donating at the top level will normally get a donor into a VIP reception with some up-close time with the president.
“Typically you get your picture taken with the guest of honor,” Melendez said. “These people will walk away with an autographed photograph of President Obama.”