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Morning Business: GOP Fundraising

Despite dire predictions of huge losses in the November elections, Congressional Republicans have exceeded their fundraising goals for Wednesday’s President’s Dinner, their largest annual fundraiser.

[IMGCAP(1)]The event at the Washington Convention Center is jointly sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) was the Senate dinner chairman, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas) was the House dinner chairman.

The NRSC raised $13.5 million, which exceeded its $12 million fundraising goal. According to GOP sources, the NRCC raised $8 million, $1 million more than its $7 million goal.

NRSC Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) said the fundraising numbers reflect the growing concern with the Democratic Congressional majority.

“I am very proud of the hard work that has been put in to this dinner to make it such a success — and I believe voters will continue to react to this overreaching liberal Congress by donating money to help us stop it,” Ensign said.

In 2007, the NRSC raised $7.5 million for the annual dinner. In 2006, the Senate GOP campaign arm raked in $12 million, but that year the Republicans still held the Senate majority.

Fundraising for both parties typically increases in a presidential election year. But presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) did not plan to attend the dinner, citing scheduling conflicts. Bush will instead headline the event.

Mortgage-gate. GOP Reps. Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Mark Souder (Ind.) called Wednesday for an investigation into allegations that Countrywide Financial gave special discounts to Members.

“If the Oversight and Government Reform Committee doesn’t investigate these high-reaching corruption allegations, I don’t see how it expects to have any credibility in the eyes of the public,” Souder said. “To think that the Senate Banking Chairman and the Senate Budget Chairman … may have received improper benefits from the mortgage industry is very concerning, and our committee needs to investigate the matter.”

Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) acknowledged he received perks after reviewing Countrywide e-mails provided to him by, which first reported the allegations.

Conrad denied any prior knowledge of the special treatment, but he subsequently donated $10,500 to charity and vowed to refinance another mortgage that the company issued.

Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has denied receiving any discounts but said Tuesday he was aware of his “VIP” designation since 2003.

The Senate Ethics Committee has not confirmed it is investigating the allegations, although Conrad has said he has been in contact with the panel.

Nine GOP Senators also wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asking him to delay the housing bill to review what benefits, if any, Countrywide could receive.

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