WASHINGTON -- The Democratic National Committee was not kidding when it hinted last month that fundraising would slow down from the torrid pace set during the first half of the year. After pulling in more than $10 million in each of the previous three months, the committee raised only $6.7 million in July, according to a new filing.
The weak numbers stem in part from the cancellation of numerous fundraising events by President Barack Obama as he dealt with the debit limit showdown with congressional Republicans in Washington.
The DNC contributions came from a combination of max-out donors, small-dollar donors and repeat donors, the three groups that have propelled Obama's fundraising power in the past.
The Obama Victory Fund, a fundraising vehicle that sends contributions to both the DNC and Obama's campaign committee, pulled in $2.2 million for the DNC in July, the lowest amount the fund has brought in since it began fundraising this year.
The fund was the primary recipient of big-dollar donors. In total, $1.6 million of the committee's July haul came from donors maxing out their contributions at $30,800.
These big donors included an array of the typical wealthy Democratic donors from Hollywood, high fashion, venture capital and law. The most notable names from the new batch of max-out donors include television personality couple Maury Povich and Connie Chung, three members of the Tisch family, which own Loews Corporation, and Maria Cuomo Cole, brother to current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and wife of fashion designer Kenneth Cole.
In what must be a disappointing situation for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, the Chairman & CEO of Tiffany's & Co., a company that Gingrich has owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past, Michael Kowalski, is now a max-out donor to the Democratic Party.
Small-dollar donors accounted for the largest share of the DNC's July fundraising at $3 million. This marks an increase from both June and May, when the committee focused their efforts on contributions from big donors, largely through the Obama Victory Fund. But the figure is still down from the first three months of 2011, when the committee brought in more than $4 million each month from donors giving under $200.
In what looks like a good sign for the committee, thousands of donors moved from the small dollar category to become itemized repeat donors. Small dollar donors are routinely labeled as such for giving under the $200 amount that requires disclosure. When those small dollar donors repeatedly donate, however, their aggregate total contribution moves above that $200 mark and requires that their name be disclosed. One of the strengths of the 2008 Obama campaign was turning small-dollar donors into repeat donors whose tiny increments could eventually reach a $1,000 or more aggregate contribution.
One of the ways that the Obama campaign courted repeat donors was the unprecedented labeling of all campaign merchandise purchases as campaign contributions. This included payments for t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers and other Obama-labeled items. The DNC has taken a cue from this effort and has sold everything to their supporters, including t-shirts bearing the acronym BFD, a reference to Vice President Joe Biden's description of the health care reform law as a "big fucking deal," and t-shirts mocking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's statement that "corporations are people."
After spending $8 million in July, the committee had $20 million cash on hand and $11 million in debts and loans.