Obama Raises Money For Boxer - Again

A blonder look for Sen. Barbara Boxer at this fund raising event with President Barack Obama at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Monday, April 19, 2010. Fiorina's Hairy Remark About Barbara Boxer
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
President Barack Obama hugs Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, Monday, April 19, 2010.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Even for a political pro like President Obama, doing three fundraisers in one evening is demanding duty.

In San Francisco tonight, the three events will raise $600,000 for the re-election campaign of Sen. Barbara Boxer, this year facing the toughest challenge of her political career. The events will also add $1.1 million to the war chest of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which funds the campaigns of other Senate Democrats.

Three in one night is unusual, but not unprecedented for Mr. Obama. In fact, he did three for Sen. Boxer just last month on April 19th in Los Angeles. That night's political trilogy raised an estimated $3.5-million for the Boxer campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

At this level of political fund-raising, the candidate has her hand out to several levels of contributors. The first event goes for $250 a ticket, the second event for $2,000 per and a private dinner event will cost a donor $17,600.

Tonight's three events bring Mr. Obama's fund-raising total for the year to 19. His count since taking office will hit 47. His fund-raising total since day one now amounts to $46.5 million.

At the same point in his presidency, George W. Bush had done fewer fundraisers, 32 - but had raised more money, over $110 million. The reason? New limits on so-called "soft money" contributions had not yet kicked it.

Under FEC regulations, the Boxer campaign and the DSCC will have to share some of the costs of flying Mr. Obama from Washington to San Francisco for tonight's political events. But as a share of the actual $100,000 per hour cost of flying Air Force One, the amount the campaign committees must reimburse the government amounts to only a small fraction. It's a tremendous political advantage enjoyed by presidents of both parties.

But the expense to Boxer and the DSCC is further amortized by the fact that the president will be doing a policy event tomorrow morning on solar energy, which means taxpayers will bear most of the cost of flying him home to Washington.

That's why if you examine the political fund-raising schedules of Mr. Obama and all his predecessors, you'll find they almost always coordinate official events as part of the same trip with fundraisers. It means taxpayers pick up a larger share of the cost of what is principally political travel.

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.
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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.