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A $353K Clinton donation gets techies up close with Clooneys, too

Any couple pledging this six-figure sum gets a round-table talk, a cocktail and a good dinner table seat.

Andrew Goodman

A lesson in Silicon Valley mogul economics: It costs close to $150,00 to buy a Tesla Model X.

But, for double that, you and your significant other can have dinner and an up-close-and-personal chat with Hillary Clinton — with a side order of George and Amal Clooney.

Or vice versa, as the campaign of the current Democratic front-runner tries to convince Silicon Valley’s elite — who have enthusiastically backed President Barack Obama over the last eight years — to finally open their wallets with an eye-popping $353,400 donation.

But getting that kind of buy-in has been slow going, as some big donors in the area have sat on the sidelines until the general election situation becomes more clear. That did not happen for Obama, who, despite recent thorny battles over encryption, has been a favorite of the tech elite donors throughout his terms.

“I really just want to boost [Clinton’s] momentum a bit now,” said one person planning on attending.

That’s clearly the impetus for tonight’s fundraising event that venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar is hosting — it will be interesting to see which top digital exec attends. The pricey part will take place at his house in Nob Hill, which includes a round-table discussion with the candidate and a small cocktail party.

Those mega-donors will also get a prime seat at a dinner after at the nearby Fairmont Hotel, which will also include 100 more people, who will pay $33,400.

This is apparently the bargain version of this event — “I am the tech hoi polloi,” joked one tech donor — for a chance to ogle the Clooneys and then talk to each other about it.

The Oscar-winning actor, who has used his A-List Hollywood status to bring attention to causes he cares about, such as the genocide in Darfur, and his wife, an attorney and human rights advocate, will hold a separate event Saturday at their Los Angeles mansion. Tickets there will cost $33,400 per person, with couples who donate $66,800 getting the chance to pose for a photo with Clinton.

The Pishevar event is expected to also be attended by supporters of Clinton challenger and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, except on the outside looking in. That’s where a crowd is planning a clamorous pots-and-pans protest, which Pishevar said he welcomes. (A Facebook post organizing the demonstration has attracted nearly 500 participants and another 1,700 expressing interest.)

“Only in America would an Iranian-born immigrant son of a taxi driver and maid trying to help elect our first woman president be protested at his home,” Pishevar told the Guardian in an interview earlier this week. “I welcome nonviolent protests as an exercise of our great democracy.”

Noise-making aside, what’s more troubling for Clinton is that Sanders has been outraising her by more than 2 to 1 in the tech sector, according to Crowdpac, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign contributions.

Source: Crowdpac

Sanders has raised $3.2 million from the industry through February, compared with Clinton’s $1.5 million haul, according to Crowdpac’s analysis. His long-shot bid has seen a surge of support, especially among small-dollar donors, since he began rolling up a string of primary and caucus victories.


Clinton’s star-studded fundraiser definitely plays into the campaign narrative Sanders has been pushing, who told CNN he finds it “obscene” that Clinton continues to court big-money donors to fund her campaign.

It was echoed by his troops in the Bay Area. “Rich people should not be allowed to buy politicians. Imagine, for example, how far $30,000 could go to help the homelessness problem in San Francisco,” the protest organizers note in the Facebook post. “This corruption-fest is not just undemocratic, it is immoral and obscene!”

Donations for the Pishevar event will go to the Hillary Victory Fund — a joint fund-raising committee for Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and 32 Democratic state committees and Puerto Rico.

Federal laws limit individual campaign contributions to $2,700 per election cycle (that’s once for the primary, and again for the general election). Rich donors can get around that single-donor limit and chip in $350,000 by contributing $2,700 to the Clinton campaign, $33,400 to the Democratic National Committee and $10,000 each to state party committees. The Hillary Victory Fund allows the affluent to do it all with one check.

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