- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 15, 2002

President Bush helped the Republican National Committee raise more than $30 million in contributions at its annual black-tie gala last night.

Mr. Bush was the featured speaker and main drawing card at the Washington Convention Center event attended by about 2,500 people, which set a record for any party's single-event fund raising.

Until last night, Democrats had held the record, set in 2000, when President Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore, raised $26.5 million in one night.

Mr. Bush has helped the RNC raise a total of more than $45 million so far this year, another record, Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot said.

And, according to RNC Finance Chairman Lewis Eisenberg, the RNC has received more contributions in the first 5½ months of this year than all of last year, when the party set a fund-raising record.

So far, the RNC has garnered 822,442 contributions for a total of $45,312,400, according to RNC spokesman Jim Dyke.

"It reflects incredible support for the president and his agenda," Mr. Dyke said.

It also reflects the advantage Republicans long have enjoyed in small donations those less than $1,000 compared to the Democratic National Committee, which relies far more on major donations from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals.

The average contribution so far this year to the RNC has been $55.10.

Mr. Dyke said 75 percent of that is in federally regulated "hard money" contributions.

RNC officials said they used direct-mail and telephone solicitations to raise 70 percent of the $45 million-plus total from 817,617 donations. The average mail-and-phone contribution was $38.49.

Mr. Dyke said that 30 percent of total came from major-donor contributions. He said there were 4,825 such contributions and the average was $2,869.

For April alone, the RNC received 189,453 donations for a total of $13,619,100, with the average gift amounting to $71.81.

As of April 30, the RNC had $44.2 million cash on hand all in federal "hard money."

Last night's gala was expected to add more than $30 million to the total raised. Mr. Dyke did not say how much was spent to raise that amount. But sources experienced in producing special-event fund-raisers estimated the cost of last night's gala at between $600,000 and $750,000.

Individual guests paid $1,500 to attend last night's event and a series of briefings yesterday from administration officials and Republican lawmakers.

Last year's RNC gala raised $23.9 million, a record. But every year in recent memory the RNC has shattered its previous record. This time it appears on the way to break the record by more than $6 million and as much as $10 million.

To be listed on the program as a member of last night's dinner committee, a guest had to commit to raising $50,000; to be a deputy chairman, $100,000; to be a vice chairman, $250,000; and to be a co-chairman, $500,000.

Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. delivered the invocation, and speakers included Mr. Bush and Mr. Racicot.

Marie Josee Kravis, one of two gala chairman, toasted the president, party officials and activists. The other gala chairman, William P. Foley II, could not attend.

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