Biden's New York Fundraisers Draw Finance and Fashion Stars





(Bloomberg) -- Joe Biden is barreling toward the end of the first campaign finance reporting period of his 2020 presidential bid with a densely packed schedule of fundraisers that have drawn a former Republican senator, an ex-Trump cabinet official and the editor of Vogue. On Monday, Al D'Amato, who represented New York in the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 1999, was at a $2,800-a-head event at the Upper East Side penthouse of short seller Jim Chanos, as was former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who served as an undersecretary before being President Donald Trump's first choice to lead the agency.

On Tuesday, Biden attended fundraisers at two law firms. An event at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison was attended by Conde Nast creative director Anna Wintour. Biden gave shoutouts to former Representative Steve Israel and Robert Schumer, a Paul Weiss partner whose brother is the Senate Democratic leader. The former vice president appeared to offer Israel a role in his administration, joking, "you better hope I don't win because you're not staying in Long Island."

The former vice president may have revealed his fundraising total in the nearly two months since he began his campaign, telling donors on Monday that "we've got over 200,000 folks - a lot more than that - 360,000. Average contribution is 55 bucks." That works out to $19.8 million so far for the second quarter of 2019. His campaign declined to comment further on fundraising.

But at a fundraiser at Weitz and Luxenberg on Tuesday, Biden told potential donors they shouldn't be complacent about the polls showing him at the head of the Democratic pack.

'We Feel Good'

"It is true we're ahead. It is true we feel good about where we're going," he said. But "there's a target on my back," and the dynamics of the race could change.

Chanos said the event Monday drew nearly 180 people.

"You guys are great, but Wall Street didn't build America," Biden told the donors. "You guys are incredibly important, but you didn't build America. Ordinary, hard-working, middle class people given half a chance build America."

In addition to D'Amato, supermarket billionaire John Catsimatidis, who came in second for the 2013 Republican nomination for New York mayor, also attended the Chanos fundraiser, the first of four the Biden campaign was holding in New York this week.

In a tweet Tuesday, Catsimatidis wrote, "Me and my family are supporting @realdonaldtrump 100%."

Catsimatidis said in an interview that he spoke to Biden for about 10 minutes at the Chanos event, and that the former vice president didn't ask him for a donation. He reiterated that he is backing Trump, though Biden is a "decent guy."

Other attendees at the Monday fundraiser included New York Representative Carolyn Maloney, who endorsed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for the Democratic nomination.

Also on hand were Robert Wolf, former head of UBS Group AG's Americas Unit and founder of the strategy and investment firm 32 Advisors, along with Dennis Mehiel, chief executive of Four M Investments; Michael Kempner, who heads the public-relations firm MWWPR; Jay Snyder, a principal at HBJ Investments; and George Tsunis, the founder of Chartwell Hotels.

Presidential campaigns increase their fundraising pace ahead of the cutoff for quarterly filings so they can tout strong numbers in their quarterly disclosures. The next quarterly cutoff is the end of June.

Biden has another event scheduled for Tuesday night. He has two fundraisers planned for Wednesday in the Maryland suburbs of Washington and he's also slated to visit Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle for finance events before the end of June.

D'Amato, whose Senate career overlapped with Biden's, maxed out to Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 primaries and general election and to former Ohio Governor John Kasich during the 2016 GOP primaries. He didn't make a contribution to Trump in 2016. He's given to some New York Democrats, including the current holder of his old Senate seat, Chuck Schumer, and to Maloney.

Catsimatidis, who has known Trump for decades and attended a dinner for business leaders at Trump's New Jersey golf club last summer, maxed out to the president's campaign in 2016 but also did the same for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He also gave $100,000 to Trump Victory and $83,400 to Hillary Victory Fund, which benefited state parties and the Democratic National Committee.

Catsimatidis' daughter Andrea is chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party.

A search showed no recent donations to any presidential campaigns from Shulkin, who was ousted by Trump last year.

(Adds Catsimatidis comment in 11th paragraph.)

--With assistance from Emma Kinery.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Epstein in Washington at jepstein32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net, Max Berley, Laurie Asséo

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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