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Clinton, DSCC Form Joint Panel

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have formed a fundraising organization designed to raise money for the party’s efforts in the 2004 election.

The Clinton-DSCC Victory Fund, which was established July 10, is a joint fundraising committee — one of seven Democrats have set up, but the only one in conjunction with a Senator not up for re-election in 2004.

“She’s a draw,” said Sen. Jon Corzine (N.J.), chairman of the DSCC.

“Senator Clinton has been raising money for Democrats for decades now,” said spokeswoman Patti Solis Doyle. “She sees this as a way to continue to do that and obviously she has to raise money for her own re-election campaign.” Clinton is expected to stand for a second term in 2006.

The fundraising agreement allows donors to write a single large check, which is then divvied up between Clinton’s campaign committee — Friends of Hillary — and the DSCC.

It also allows the Senate committee access to the huge national database of donors that helped Clinton raise better than $40 million in her 2000 victory over then-Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.).

Aside from Clinton, Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Tom Daschle (S.D.) and Harry Reid (Nev.) all have joint committees with the DSCC.

“These joint fundraising committees are helpful because not only do they benefit candidates but they are helpful to the [DSCC],” said its communications director, Mike Siegel.

Republicans have only one joint fundraising committee set up to aid their candidates in the 2004 election.

Known as W/N 2003, the organization is a conduit for an annual fundraising event hosted by Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and Don Nickles (R-Okla.). The two Senators take the proceeds from the event and dole it out to the members of their conference up for re-election.

The June event brought in $849,000; in 2002 Warner and Nickles raised $1.1 million.

Clinton has quickly emerged as the top fundraiser in her Caucus as both Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) and Minority Whip Harry Reid (Nev.) are occupied with potentially competitive 2004 races of their own.

She hosted a fundraiser at her Northwest Washington, D.C., home earlier this year that raised $500,000 for the DSCC and appeared with her fellow female Democratic Senators at a June issue forum in New York City. That event raised $350,000 for the Senate campaign arm, and a similar one is scheduled for D.C. in September.

Clinton also has several upcoming fundraisers for individual Senators.

She is scheduled to be in Arkansas with Lincoln today and will do events in the near future for Murray, Wyden and Sen. Mark Dayton (Minn.).

These appearances coincide with book signings Clinton is doing for her recently released memoir, “Living History.”

Clinton has donated $50,000 from her personal campaign committee and $15,000 from her leadership PAC to the DSCC as well.

Although Clinton’s JFC will not file a financial report detailing its activities until Oct. 15, a look at second-quarter reports for the existing committees reveal that they have proved to be lucrative for Democrats. More than $1 million was raised through them between April 1 and June 30.

Of that total, $418,500 went to the Senators and $389,000 to the DSCC. The remainder was spent on overhead and event costs for the respective committees or retained as cash on hand.

By far the most active joint committee was Boxer/DSCC ’04, which raised $624,000 in the period and $897,000 so far in 2003.

In this quarter, $322,500 was transferred to Boxer’s campaign committee; the DSCC received $175,000.

Overall, Boxer directed $1.7 million into her own campaign account over the past three months — the fourth-highest total of the 32 incumbents that are expected to stand for re-election in 2004. She ended June with $3.1 million on hand.

An examination of the donors to the Boxer/DSCC ’04 committee shows a laundry list of A-list Hollywood celebrities.

Actors Rob Reiner, Jim Belushi, Rita Wilson and Christine Lahti and director Sydney Pollack donated sums ranging from $500 to $2,500 to the committee. Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons,” chipped in $2,000.

The largest individual contribution to the organization came from John Sperling, the president of Apollo Group, an online education company. Sperling ponied up $25,000.

Boxer has yet to draw a first-tier challenger as she pursues a third term.

Former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey (R) is in the race, and former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin (R) has formed an exploratory committee to begin raising funds for the contest. State Assemblyman Tony Strickland (R) is also reportedly contemplating a bid. And while Boxer’s re-election prospects seem good, the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis (D) has all of the state’s politicians on their toes.

In 1998, Boxer defeated then-state Treasurer Matt Fong (R), spending nearly $14 million to do so.

Murray was also extremely active through her joint committee — Washington Senate 2004.

That fund brought in $208,000 in the quarter after raising just $10,000 in the first three months of 2003.

Murray chaired the DSCC in the 2002 cycle, when JFCs were employed on behalf of 17 candidates; the National Republican Senatorial Committee had eight JFCs of its own.

Prior to the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in the 107th Congress, wealthy individuals could write a check for any amount with the first $2,000 going to the candidate and the remainder to the party as a soft-money donation.

Under the new rules, a candidate can accept up to $4,000 from an individual donor while the party committees can take up to $25,000 in hard money per year.

Murray is not seen as one of the most endangered Democrats up for re-election next year.

Rep. Jennifer Dunn, the GOP’s most formidable candidate, declined to run, and Rep. George Nethercutt (R) remains undecided.

Aside from Boxer and Murray, the other four Democrats have been less active in channeling money to their JFCs.

Daschle, who is likely to face a challenge from former Rep. John Thune (R), raised $78,000 through South Dakota Senate Victory between April 1 and June 30.

Four contributors provided $70,000 of that total, with $25,000 coming from Robert Lieff, a San Francisco-based trial lawyer. John Morgridge, chairman of the board at Cisco Systems, gave $15,000.

Wyden’s Oregon Senate 2004 raised $61,000 in the period while Arkansas Senate 2004 brought in $23,000 for the re-election effort of Lincoln. Nevada Senate 2004, the JFC for Reid, did not raise any money in the period.

Paul Kane contributed to this report.

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