Organizers expect to pull in a more modest amount of about $500,000 from U.S. donors for Obama’s campaign, with many flying in to Geneva from around the world.
Americans Abroad for Obama, the event’s sponsor, says on its Web site that guests are paying $15,000 per person to dine with Clooney, $5,000 for a photo with him and $1,000 to attend a reception before the dinner. About 30 people are attending the dinner, with at least 100 at the reception.
The event is co-hosted by Geneva-based American lawyer Charles C. Adams Jr. and Matthew Barzun, Obama’s campaign finance chairman. The dinner is being held at Adams’ home in an historic part of the city overlooking Lake Geneva, where Adams held a previous fundraiser for Obama in 2008.
Clooney was due to arrive in Geneva from the villa where he typically spends time during the summer on northern Italy’s Lake Como. Obama campaign officials in Washington have declined to comment on the fundraiser.
The president has called the actor and director a good friend who tries to keep his distance so Obama won’t be criticized for hanging out with Hollywood celebrities. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight earlier this month, Obama said he got to know Clooney through his work on Sudan when Obama was in the U.S. Senate. Clooney has led campaigns to end the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, and for more humanitarian aid for millions of people caught up in the fighting.
The Democratic president and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have both been aggressively hunting for campaign money overseas, seeking any advantage in a tight race that’s expected to stay that way into the fall. Each has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in this fashion, not including the sums raised overseas by both party committees, though it is just a fraction of the more than $300 million Obama has raised overall and the $155 million raised by Romney.
American citizens and green-card holders can legally donate regardless of where they live, subject to the $2,500-per-person contribution limit that applies to those living stateside. U.S. law bans foreigners from contributing to political campaigns. Campaigns, the parties and political committees are expected to review donors and reject any ineligible contributions.