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DCCC: Chairman Out Front

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is beginning a new effort to bring in high-end donors, rolling out a chairman-driven program.

The initiative is part of the DCCC’s effort to cultivate donors giving individual money who are not yet ready to commit to spending the $30,800 max-out level.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) is headlining the House campaign aimed at securing $10,000 in personal money from individuals for the 2012 cycle.

“The DCCC continues to expand our outreach to prospective donors in D.C. and around the country. Our new Chairman’s Council program is an important part of our plan for 2011-2012,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is expected to unveil a similar program, according to Democratic lobbyists familiar with the campaign committee’s efforts. The DSCC’s fundraising levels are projected to be higher, with individuals required to contribute $20,000 per cycle, according to the lobbyists.

DSCC spokesman Shripal Shah declined to comment for this story.

It’s unclear how much money the DCCC’s Chairman’s Council, which is national in scope, will bring in. Ferguson did not respond by press time to an email asking for specifics on the fundraising strategy.

Lobbyists involved in the DCCC Chairman’s Council say a group like this is necessary, considering the goal of trying to take back 25 seats in the House for the 2012 elections.

“Given the results of the last election, there is an effort to generate more enthusiasm,” said Tom Ryan of Ryan, MacKinnon, Vasapoli and Berzok and a member of the group.

One Democratic lobbyist said the DCCC is “making a broader appeal to bring in major dollars.”

Lobbyists involved in the group say they expect not only face time with Israel, but also smaller group meetings with senior Capitol Hill aides.

So far, the New York Democrat has done two Washington, D.C., events for the group, including a cocktail reception and dinner. Several K Streeters attended at least one of the events, including Paul Thornell of Citigroup; David Castagnetti and David Thomas of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti; John Michael Gonzalez of Peck, Madigan, Jones & Stewart; and Ryan and Matthew Berzok of Ryan, MacKinnon, Vasapoli and Berzok. Libby Greer of Cauthen Forbes & Williams and Melissa Schulman of the Bockorny Group are also affiliated with the group.

Several of the K Streeters involved are onboard with the Chairman’s Council since the Blueprint for America initiative is now defunct. Blueprint for America was a group started by about two dozen lobbyists focused on giving $10,000 per cycle in personal money to Frontline members. The DCCC also had a previous Chairman’s Circle program focused on committee chairmen bringing in contributions, but that fundraising group hasn’t been used in years. The DCCC is not alone in its efforts to cultivate donors giving personal money to a membership program. The National Republican Congressional Committee has had a similar program for the past several election cycles called the Congressional Leadership Council for individual donors contributing $10,000, according to NRCC spokeswoman Emily Davis.

“For years, the NRCC’s individual donor programs have provided a political voice for thousands of Americans, and we’ll take the DCCC’s attempted imitation as a form of flattery,” Davis said in a statement. “While Democrats cajole individuals to open up their wallets to make Nancy Pelosi the Speaker again, Democrat campaigns and policies will continue to be controlled by labor unions and liberal interest groups.”

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