A group of more than 100 major liberal donors will meet at Washington's Mandarin Oriental Hotel this week to discuss the future of Democratic fundraising efforts and to take on the potentially divisive topic of how to offset or exceed GOP fundraising in 2012.
The meeting comes in the form of a conference for donors to Democracy Alliance, an organization that was created in 2005 to help build a progressive infrastructure. It is expected to include discussions among wealthy liberals about what went wrong in November's midterm elections and how to proceed in the future. (Among the members of Democracy Alliance are progressive billionaires George Soros and Peter B. Lewis, both of whom have contributed millions of dollars to promote liberal causes.)
The meeting comes at a time when many Democrats are divided about how to approach fundraising in the future. The Obama administration repeatedly recently signaled a possible change of heart.Republicans for accepting money from outside donors in the months leading up to November's midterm elections. Apparently anticipating massive GOP donations from such groups in 2012, however, White House adviser David Axelrod
Democrats are hoping to counter the political spending by conservative groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Karl Rove-affiliated American Crossroads, both of which spent tens of millions of dollars in the 2010 elections, sometimes from anonymous donors. It is not clear, however, whether or not using Republicans' fundraising tactics would actually work for Democrats.
David Brock, who runs the left-leaning nonprofit media watchdog group Media Matters, recently announced his decision to start a so-called super-PAC, an independent organization that can collect unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations, as well as lobby positively and negatively for specific political candidates, as long as their contributions are disclosed. Brock stressed that his group will disclose its donors, unlike many GOP outside groups organized under Section 501(c) of the U.S. tax code.
"The Republican independent groups versus the Democratic independent groups in this cycle; they spent about 100 million dollars more than the Democratic independent groups. I think what people are missing in this, though, is if you look back, you know, progressive donors have stepped up when asked to advance our values, our American values through politics," Brock told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann in an interview last week.
"One of the lessons we learned this year is we have to start now," he continued.
Though the White House has signaled that it may be open to pumping up the fundraising efforts among outside groups, the Obama administration is calling for full disclosure.
"Our strong preference is for a campaign finance system that is transparent and open and in which the American people can see what's going on," Axelrod said in an interview with Politico last week. "But I am sure the physics of this is that there will be people offended by this and they will be inspired to get involved."
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.