First lady Michelle Obama and North Carolinas James Taylor will headline two Charlotte fundraisers next month designed to pull in big money for the upcoming Democratic National Convention, a convention official told the Observer.
But, at a time when President Barack Obama and other Democrats are making an issue of income inequality, one of the fundraisers will have some tickets priced at $250 pricey, but far less than the $12,500-per-couple itll cost to attend the other.
If economic inequality is to be at the center of the Democrats general election campaign, they can hardly have just a concert and event with the first lady that only rich people can afford, said Ferrel Guillory, director of the UNC Program on Public Life. They need the money, but they also need the symbol and reality of also offering access to people who cant afford as much.
Those planning the September convention in Charlotte appear to be moving ahead on two tracks: Offering perks to entice big donors, while trying to engage a greater number of everyday Americans, as Steve Kerrigan, CEO of the Democratic National Committee, calls them.
Such a strategy serves both financial and political goals.
Take the recent announcement that the president would give his acceptance speech at Bank of America Stadium. That venue lets Charlottes host committee charged with raising $36.65 million dangle skyboxes in front of possible jumbo donors. But it also means admitting tens of thousands of non-delegates most of them voters living in a crucial swing state who will get to be part of the hoopla for free.
Also free will be a Labor Day party at Lowes Motor Speedway, which can hold even more voters than the football stadium.
The March 2 fundraisers featuring the first lady and Taylor are fresh examples of going after both big donors and those who dont have thousands of dollars to contribute.
Both events will be held at Ballantyne Hotel.
Itll cost at least $12,500-per-couple to attend an afternoon dinner with Michelle Obama and see Taylor perform.
That night, the two celebrities will be at a fundraising reception, with tickets starting at $250. Taylor will perform.
Proceeds from both events will go to Charlottes host committee the Committee for Charlotte 2012 to help reach the total the committee has agreed to raise to put on the convention.
The committee can accept individual contributions of up to $100,000, but is operating under new rules imposed by the DNCC that exclude cash contributions from lobbyists, political action committees and corporations.
Though Kerrigan has said fundraising is right on track, the host committee has declined repeated requests by the Observer to reveal how much has been raised.
The DNCCs contract with the committee a private nonprofit group says all contributions shall be disclosed publicly by the host committee within an agreed upon regular time frame.
No such disclosures have been made. And on Thursday, host committee spokeswoman Suzi Emmerling said there are no current plans to release the numbers.
Some members of the host committee have privately said the DNCC restrictions and the sour economy have made it more difficult than in past years to raise the money.
Sure to help their bottom line are events such as the appearances by the first lady and Taylor an Obama supporter who did several N.C. concerts for the campaign in 2008. Staff Writer Jim Morrill contributed.