Published July 15, 2012
Let’s see if you can guess what the following events have in common: a super-secret conference hosted by the billionaire Koch brothers; a concert with $10,000 tickets featuring Mariah Carey; and an uber-luxe weekend golf retreat in Deer Valley, Utah.
If you guessed political campaign fundraising, you guessed right. Each of those events was orchestrated for one purpose — to help either Romney or Obama win the 2012 election. (Romney is currently pulling in more dollars — specifically, $35 million more than Obama in the month of June.)
But the events had something else in common, too — they all took place at some of the country’s top luxury hotels. And we wouldn’t be the hotel tell-all if we didn’t spill the details on just what went down — and where.
We’ve provided helpful color coded icons in Republican red and Democratic blue to let you know which event helped whom.
The Event: “Path to Freedom 2012,” a fundraising summit hosted by the Koch brothers, June 24
The Power Players: The Koch brothers, conservative oil tycoons each worth $25 billion
The Spoils: Unknown, but it’s been reported that their annual fundraising goal is $400 million.
Security at the Park Hyatt Aviara was extremely tight for the Koch brothers’ biannual fundraiser, and few details about the guest list or speeches have been leaked. (A BuzzFeed reporter did manage to sneak in, before getting the boot for not wearing a name tag.) But we’re sure the wealthy conservatives who gathered to raise money enjoyed the property’s gorgeous pool with lagoon views, Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, and serene gardens.
The Plaza, New York City – D.
The Event: Fundraising dinner and concert featuring Mariah Carey, June 14
The Power Players: President Obama, who gave a speech to the guests
The Spoils: $2.5 million (250 tickets for $10,000 each)
The Plaza is one of Manhattan’s most iconic luxury hotels, and a fitting venue for a classy, seated fundraiser dinner. Obama gave a speech, as did Alicia Keys and Newark Mayor Corey Booker, and Mariah Carey performed. Earlier that evening, Obama attended a star-studded $40,000-a-plate dinner at actress Sarah Jessica Parker’s home.
Chateaux at Silver Lake and Stein Erikson Lodge, Deer Valley, UT – R.
The Event: National Romney Victory Leadership Retreat, June 24
The Power Players: Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, Condoleeza Rice, John McCain, Jeb Bush
The Spoils: The 700-plus attendees had to donate at least $25,000 or raise $100,000 for the Romney campaign to score an invite
The three-day conservative retreat for top Romney donors spurred quite a lot of controversy. It’s illegal for a candidate to coordinate efforts with independent Super PACs (there’s no limit to how much one can give to a Super PAC, though official campaign donations are capped) — and yet both Mitt Romney and Super PAC leaders were in attendance at the retreat. Karl Rove, who founded Super PAC American Crossroads, was a speaker at the event. The weekend centered around the luxurious Stein Erikson Lodge and the Chateaux at Silver Lake, and ended on Sunday with a round of golf.
The Event: Gala featuring performer Bon Jovi, June 4
The Power Players: President Obama, former President Bill Clinton
The Spoils: $1.25 million+ (500 tickets starting at $2,500)
Singer and political activist Bon Jovi performed at this posh gala — and hitched a free ride on Air Force One on the way to the event. The fundraiser at the iconic luxury hotel in Midtown East was the second of three Obama fundraisers that took place that evening; the first being a 50-person, $40,000-a-plate dinner at the house of a hedge fund manager, and the last being a Broadway concert with tickets starting at $250.
Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas — R.
The Event: Evening Reception with Governor Mitt Romney, May 30
The Power Players: Mitt Romney, Donald Trump
The Spoils: $2 million
Romney secured the Republican nomination with his Texas primary win May 29, and celebrated at a fundraiser May 30 held by backer Donald Trump at his hotel in Las Vegas. Attendees could contribute $2,500 for admittance to the general reception, $10,000 for a VIP photo reception, and $50,000 for a “founding member dessert reception.” Perhaps surprisingly, Trump’s Vegas hotel is a low-key, non-gaming option located off of the Strip.
Beverly Wilshire Beverly Hills, Los Angeles — D.
The Event: LGBT Leadership Council gala, featuring Ellen DeGeneres and Darren Criss, June 6
The Power Players: President Obama
The Spoils: $1.5 million+ (600 tickets starting at $1,250)
This star-studded LGBT gala, with entertainment by Ellen DeGeneres and Glee star Darren Criss, took place at the posh Beverly Wilshire (yes, the hotel from Pretty Woman) less than a month after Obama came out in support of gay marriage. The event was one of five of West coast fundraisers in San Francisco and LA, which brought in a total of around $5.5 million.
The Grand Del Mar, San Diego – R.
The Event: Reception with Mitt and Ann Romney, hosted by Pete Wilson, June 2
The Power Players: Mitt Romney, Pete Wilson, Rep. Brian P. Bilbray, Rep. Darrell Issa
The Spoils: $2,500 and up per ticket
Like Obama, Romney also planned a California fundraising visit, which included multiple Southern California events over the course of three days; he raised $2 million during his visit to San Diego. One of the larger events was hosted by former California governor Pete Wilson at The Grand Del Mar, a stunning Spanish-Colonial-style resort with an 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio.
The Jefferson, Washington, D.C. — D.
The Events: Fundraising dinners on Jan. 8; April 25; June 8
The Power Players: President Obama
The Spoils: $1.125 million ($45,000 per plate, 25 guests) on Jan. 8; $895,000 ($35,800 per ticket, 25 guests) on April 25; $800,000 ($40,000 per plate, 20 guests) on June 8
This exclusive boutique hotel, named (and themed) for founding father Thomas Jefferson, has become one of the Obama campaign’s preferred spots for exclusive fundraising dinners. The hotel is full of colonial charm: an intimate library; a working dumbwaiter; decorations inspired by Monticello, Jefferson’s plantation; and even a bust of Thomas Jefferson himself.