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Originally published July 21, 2014 at 8:34 PM | Page modified July 21, 2014 at 8:50 PM

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Obama fundraising visit to enrich Democratic super PAC

President Obama’s fundraising swing through the Seattle area Tuesday will include a high-priced dinner event benefiting a Democratic super PAC — the sort of no-limits political committee he has criticized in the past.


Seattle Times political reporter

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President Obama’s fundraising swing through the Seattle area Tuesday will include a high-priced dinner event benefiting a Democratic super PAC.

The event is at the Hunts Point home of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal and his wife, Jan, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Seattle Times.

The price tag for the event is $25,000 per person, with proceeds going to the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group that accepts unlimited donations.

As a candidate, Obama has railed against U.S. Supreme Court rulings that opened up a flood of unfettered political spending through nonprofits and super PACs.

But Obama has come to embrace super PACs on his side of the political divide, especially as he campaigns for Democrats in the 2014 midterms.

He headlined his first super PAC fundraiser, for the Senate Majority PAC, last month in New York.

The event at Sinegal’s home is in addition to an earlier scheduled fundraiser at the Seattle waterfront home of Bruce and Ann Blume, who were fundraising “bundlers” for Obama’s 2012 campaign.

The afternoon event will benefit the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Obama is expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon at Boeing Field and leave later that evening.

It’s unclear how his two political events on opposite sides of Lake Washington will impact traffic already affected by lane closures on Interstate 90. But a presidential motorcade rolling across the Highway 520 bridge could further congest the evening commute.

A letter accompanying the dinner invitation pleads for donors to help avert a Republican takeover of the Senate.

“A mere six seat shift would alter the makeup of the Senate, allowing the GOP to control everything from choice to federal judge confirmations and the Supreme Court. We cannot afford to let this happen, and we need your help,” the letter to donors for the Sinegal event reads.

However, in a feat of legalese probably designed to appease campaign-finance regulators, the letter says Obama would only be appearing as a special guest and is “not soliciting funds for this event or acknowledging your contribution at any point.”

By law, super PACs are independent-expenditure organizations and are barred from directly coordinating with candidate campaigns or political-party committees.

Senate Majority PAC has raised more than $30 million for the 2014 elections and spent about $20 million so far on key Senate races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Both the Sinegals and the Blumes are familiar hosts for Obama, as they also welcomed him for fundraisers during his 2012 re-election campaign.

Bruce Blume is founder and CEO of The Blume Co., a commercial real-estate firm. In addition to raising money for Obama’s campaign, he and his wife gave $50,000 to help pay for Obama’s first inauguration party.

Sinegal, who retired as Costco CEO in 2012, has been a longtime Democratic patron, donating at least $875,000 to party candidates and committees since the 1990s, according to Federal Election Commission records.

He also secured a speaking slot at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, where he promoted Obama’s policies as good for business.

The Sinegal event is co-hosted by Tom and Sonya Campion, also major Democratic Party patrons, who hosted Obama at their Seattle home in November for a closed-to-the-media DNC fundraiser.

No official events have been announced as part of Obama’s visit, and he’s expected to fly out Tuesday night to San Francisco to continue his West Coast fundraising tour.

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @Jim_Brunner



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