Road to Washington takes L.A. turn

After a post-Oscar respite, candidates will once again descend on Hollywood over the next few days for a series of fund-raising events.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who was in Los Angeles last week for receptions with high-profile donors, is scheduled to return today at a dinner hosted by Haim Saban. The event is aimed at supporters who commit to each raising $25,000 or more for her upcoming March 24 fund-raising gala at the home of Ron Burkle. Clinton will join Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for a public event at City Hall on Saturday for the kickoff of the Great American Cleanup campaign designed to beautify public spaces such as parks and waterways.

On Monday, former Sen. John Edwards will attend an evening reception at the Beverly Hills home of Endeavor’s Adam Venit and his wife, Trina. The event, which includes a $2,300-per-person VIP reception followed by a $1,000-per-person general reception, is hosted by the Venits and Armyan Bernstein, Skip Paul and Rob Vinson.

That same evening, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is scheduled to attend a $2,300-per-person benefit for his presidential exploratory committee at the Brentwood home of former ambassador Rockwell Schnabel and his wife, Marna. Among the co-chairs of the event is Jon Liebman, CEO of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment. Liebman is a former assistant U.S. attorney and worked for Giuliani in the New York office. Co-hosts of the event include writer-director Lionel Chetwynd and actor John O’Hurley.

Presidential candidates are scrambling to tap industry donors in Los Angeles and elsewhere, as campaigns try to post better-than-expected fund-raising results before the end of the first-quarter. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is expected to make the rounds this month, and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) is scheduled for a March 29 fund-raiser at the home of producer Tom Werner, with Werner, Universal’s Ron Meyer and City National’s Russell Goldsmith as the hosts.

By April 15, each campaign is required to disclose its fund-raising totals and list of donors to the Federal Election Commission. As such, the race so far has been like a “money primary,” and it has set off a game of expectations among the contenders’ campaign operations.

Clinton’s Hollywood supporters, for instance, are saying only that they expect to raise more than $1.3 million at their March 24 event. That figure is the amount that Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign reported raising last week at a reception at the Beverly Hilton.

But Clinton has been raising up to $4,600 from each individual because her campaign has decided to forgo public financing and the spending limits that come with it. Individuals are limited to contributing $2,300 to each candidate in the primary and another $2,300 in the general election. Clinton has been raising money for both.

However, Obama (D-Ill.) has been raising $2,300 from each individual, but that could soon change.

At the Obama campaign’s request, the FEC ruled Thursday that campaigns could raise private money for the general election now and return the money later if, as a nominee, the candidate decides to instead take public funds and abide by spending limits.

That means that all of the participants in Obama’s star-studded event last week can be courted again for more contributions.

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