Senate Democrats want special interests to stop meddling in elections behind closed doors -- just as soon as they sell some tickets for a private reception ... at $15,000 a head.
The Senate is holding off on voting for a much-heralded campaign finance crackdown until Democratic officials finish raising money in New York City.
Democrats deny that the scheduling has anything to do with the high-dollar fundraiser set for late Wednesday. But Republicans are questioning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to wait until Thursday to vote on the DISCLOSE Act, legislation meant to rein in the influence of corporate and special interest campaign contributions.
"They want to block the right of other Americans to participate in the election process, but only after raising even more money to strengthen their own ability to participate in the election process," said Brian Walsh, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Reid's office announced Tuesday that the Senate would pivot to the campaign finance bill shortly after a sweeping defense bill, which included a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" law, failed to clear a procedural hurdle. Republicans immediately questioned why Democrats were turning to the package -- which was blocked by the GOP the last time it came up in July -- with other economic priorities on the table.
"They said their priority is jobs, jobs, jobs and we're going to take up a campaign finance bill that already failed in the Senate," Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, told FoxNews.com.
But Stewart said it was "odd" for Reid to wait until Thursday to schedule a cloture vote, since the schedule is open Wednesday and the DISCLOSE Act is "the next thing in line."
One congressional source said it looked like the vote to limit campaign spending was postponed so Democrats could rake in some campaign cash of their own.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley told Roll Call there was no connection between the fundraiser and the vote timing, adding that many Democratic lawmakers want to speak on the floor about the bill Wednesday.
A senior Democratic Senate leadership aide also said it would be "ridiculous" to suggest the fundraiser is inconsistent with the proposed legislation.
"There are tons of fundraisers going on in both parties in this campaign season," the aide told Fox News. "Every dollar raised and donor will be fully disclosed before the election and every dollar spent (when it is later spent during the campaign) will be disclosed. ... The attempt to try to suggest this is inconsistent with DISCLOSE is absurd."
A copy of the invitation shows the party offering general tickets for $100; VIP tickets that come with a reception with members of Congress for $2,500; and top-of-the-line tickets that come with a dinner and a presidential photo reception for $15,200.
The fundraiser is for the House Senate Victory Fund, a joint committee between the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
President Obama is headlining, and the invitation lists as hosts Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen and DSCC Chairman Robert Menendez.
Manley said Reid does not plan to attend the fundraiser.