So McAuliffe, hard up for cash for the 2002 election cycle, went to Saban and Bing and asked if they would be willing to shift building money to the party’s campaign coffers for 2002. Never mind that the two men over time have donated, combined, more than $19 million in cash to specific Democratic candidates and issue-oriented campaigns the DNC was running.
“McAuliffe can spin all he wants, but we’re in serious s—- up to our necks,” says a DNC staffer. “The Republicans hammered us this year. Their hard money, their soft money, it’s embarrassing. Then we have to go to these two guys and say, ‘Gee, can we have more?’ What happens when these Hollywood types figure out they aren’t going to get anything for their money? What if they go bankrupt? Who do we turn to next?”
Saban and Bing’s generosity toward the party can largely be chalked up to their fascination with Bill Clinton. When the former president is out on the left coast, he sometimes stays with one or the other, and always socializes with them. “There’s a school of thought here that as long as Clinton’s around as a playmate, some of these people will just keep coughing up the cash,” says the staffer. “But Clinton isn’t going to solve the party’s longterm financial problems, and that is how do we begin raising the hard money we’re going to need to raise to compete with the Republicans in the post-McCain-Feingold election landscape.”
Apparently, McAuliffe and others will worry about that later. For now, the party has about $6 million more in its 2002 election coffers than it did a week ago. And for cash-strapped Democratic candidates around the country that could be good news.p>
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