Virginia Democrats Overstate Success of Hillary Fundraising Event

Fundraising shortfall latest sign that Clinton lacks footing in key swing state

Hillary Clinton / AP
• July 23, 2015 2:50 pm


A fundraiser headlined by Hillary Clinton for the Virginia Democratic Party was hailed by party officials as a huge success that brought in more than $1 million, but campaign disclosure forms show that this figure was far from accurate.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D.) hosted the June 26 dinner in Fairfax, Va.. While all proceeds went to the Democratic Party of Virginia, it was treated as a Clinton campaign event.

MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald wrote that the event "felt more like June 2016 than June 2016 [sic]," and that "speaker after speaker praised Clinton as if the Democratic nomination were a fait accompli."

Seitz-Wald was also told by party officials that "more than $1 million" was raised, but an analysis of federal and state campaign filings indicates that the success of the event was overstated.

"All the proceeds" from the event, according to Seitz-Wald, went to the Democratic Party of Virginia, though it says that some of the donations went to another group, Common Good VA, .

The Democratic Party of Virginia’s monthly filing to the Federal Election Commission show that just over $208,000 was raised during the month of June. Only $78,650 of the contributions came on June 26. The bulk of the listed contributions on that day were for $125—which was the ticket price for the event.

Much of the money raised at the event, however, was not filed to the FEC but rather to Virginia’s Department of Elections.

According to the most recent quarterly campaign filing, the Democratic Party of Virginia brought in a total of $1,052,510 from April 1 to June 30.

An analysis of each itemized contribution made during this period shows that only $237,000 of that was given on June 26 and that the bulk of the cash on that date came from Democratic state groups such as $65,000 from the House Democratic Caucus and $60,000 from the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus.

An additional $100,000 was given by prominent Philip Munger, a prominent Democratic donor whose father, Charles, was the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.

Common Good VA, a committee set up by McAuliffe to raise political donations during his time as governor, also took some of the money raised through the dinner. Common Good VA took in $148,000 on June 26, according to the committee's most recent campaign filing.

The $463,650 worth of donations made on June 26 to the Democratic Party of Virginia and Common Good VA falls far short of the number previously stated by party officials, but could be expected given the reported trouble that event organizers had filling the event.

Tickets for the event—which were sold for both $30 and $125—were reportedly being given away for free on the day of the event.

The Democratic Party of Virginia also says that donations included in the over $1 million that it says was raised through the event came in before the event and therefore were not included in the Washington Free Beacon's calculations. Donations associated with the event also could still come in, it says.

Though Clinton was not raising money for her own campaign, the event was seen as important because winning Virginia, typically a swing state, will be crucial for her in 2016.

Polling data released on Wednesday by Quinnipiac University found Clinton trailing multiple major Republican candidates in Virginia.

The poll of 1,209 Virginia voters found that she was seen favorably by 41 percent and unfavorably by 50 percent.

UPDATE 5:57 P.M.: This article has been updated to reflect that proceeds also went to Common Good VA.