Republicans initially struggled to raise money for the dinner before NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and other top leaders admonished lawmakers in recent weeks to start giving. Member donations represent the bulk of the largesse for the committee's annual March Dinner, and these goals are typically set to be exceeded.
“This dinner has achieved both its financial goal and set the record for highest Republican House member participation for our March Dinner in recent years,” said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who has tapped to chair the fundraising dinner. “I'd like to thank the Republican Conference, especially the team captains, whose efforts were vital to meeting our goal.”
Republicans lost a congressional seat over the weekend most recently occupied by former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and the NRCC was beset by a financial accounting scandal earlier this year after members discovered a former treasurer had forged an audit from the committee to its principal bank lender. In addition, 28 Republicans have either announced their plans to retire or resigned from Congress, creating a number of open seats that the GOP will be forced to defend.
So the fundraising total comes at the perfect time for the cash-strapped campaign committee.
President Bush will headline the dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel.