President Barack Obama is in New York tonight for his first fundraiser targeting the financial services industry since he asked Congress in his 2013 budget to increase taxes on the wealthy.
The dinner at ABC Kitchen includes many of Obama’s top Wall Street donors, including Blair W. Effron, partner and co-founder of Centerview Partners LLP; Marc Lasry, managing partner and founder of Avenue Capital Group; Mark Gallogly, a managing principal of Centerbridge Partners; James Rubin, managing director of BC Partners; Robert Wolf, UBS AG’s chairman for the Americas; and Antonio Weiss, Lazard Ltd. global head of investment banking.
The president’s hosts also include Ralph Schlosstein, chief executive officer at Evercore Partners Inc., and his wife, Jane Hartley, co-founder of the economic and political advisory firm Observatory Group LLC, who were assured last month by Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, that the president won’t demonize Wall Street in his re-election pursuit.
Obama told about 80 supporters he recognized that his administration has lost some of its popularity in the financial services industry.
“So many people in this room were active in 2008,” he said. “So many of you have had to defend me from your co- workers over the last three years.” The remark drew laughter from the audience.
The event is one of four Obama is holding in New York tonight as he raises about $5 million for his re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Obama has brought in $140 million for his campaign through the end of January, Federal Election Commission reports show.
His first fundraiser of the night is a reception at the home of lawyer Victor Kovner and his wife, Sarah, according to a campaign official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. About 100 people are expected with tickets starting at $5,000, the official said.
After the dinner Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks at a fundraising gala hosted by Deepak Chopra, Paulette Cole, Russell Simmons, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Reshma Saujani and Phil Suarez, with approximately 900 people, the official said. The Roots, Ben Folds and Ingrid Michaelson will perform, and Aziz Ansari will emcee the event. Tickets for the gathering start at $1,000.
White House Decorator
The evening is being capped by a fundraiser at the Manhattan apartment of interior designer Michael Smith, who was chosen by first lady Michelle Obama in 2009 to be the White House decorator.
About 40 guests will pay $10,000 for the event with the president.
Smith also was the designer who worked on a $1.2 million redecoration of the downtown Manhattan office of former Merrill Lynch & Co. Chief Executive Officer John Thain. The remodeling was done in 2008 as the company was firing employees amid $56 billion in losses. It became a symbol of Wall Street excess and drew criticism from Obama. Thain later said he reimbursed the company for the cost.
Obama’s last fundraiser with the financial services industry was on Sept. 19. So far this election cycle, he hasn’t been able to match the success he had four years ago in getting money from Wall Street.
In Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget, he called for $1.4 trillion in new revenue over 10 years from Americans at the top of the income scale, proposing higher taxes on wages and investments and limiting itemized deductions. He would tax long-term capital gains at 20 percent, up from the current 15 percent, for individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000.
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