Owing to the controversial Supreme Court decision Citizens United, which allows for wealthy individuals to make unlimited donations to shadowy entities known as “Super-Pacs,” Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has enjoyed a consistent fundraising advantage over President Barack Obama, whose anti-Wall Street rhetoric and center-left policy prescriptions have scared away many a hyper-ventilating plutocrat. That being said, the President has one thing on his side that his opponent does not: star power (unless you count Clint Eastwood’s infamous conversation with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention).
President Obama is cashing in some of his celebrity chips tonight at rapper Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club, located in the Flatiron District on West 25th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, a few blocks away from our sponsor New York City Seminar and Conference Center! Mega-celebrities Beyonce and Jay-Z are slated to make appearances at the exclusive, $40,000 per-head fundraiser, which is expected to raise 4 million dollars for the Obama campaign. The event comes at a perilous time, as Romney and his cadre of wealthy donors prepare to bury the president’s message with an avalanche of negative ads in crucial swing states. Conservative pundits are likely to attack the President for taking advantage of his “hip” status in order to generate money for his campaign. “What does the support of Beyonce and Jay-Z have to do with Obama’s competence as President,” they might ask. Similarly, many Republicans will claim that the President’s willingness to call in big-name celebrities is a sign of desperation, an attempt to distract Americans from his dismal economic record.
But consider this: the majority of donations from Romney’s campaign have come from millionaires and billionaires, many of whom, unlike Jay-Z and Beyonce, insist on remaining anonymous and thus exempt from public criticism. The Obama campaign, in contrast, has raised a considerable amount of its campaign funds from small donors. In an electoral system that blatantly favors Republicans, whose policies favor the super-rich (as evidenced in this revealing speech not intended for public consumption), is it wrong for the president to draw assistance from his allies in the entertainment industry? Why are the Wall Street tycoons and oil magnates of the world any more entitled to express their support for a candidate than Jay-Z and Beyonce, who at least have the courage to voice their opinions publicly?
Ideology aside, tonight’s fundraiser highlights the Flatiron District as a hotbed of events for those looking to dip their toes in the political waters. That’s Flatiron Hot’s Territory … make sure you check back for further news and posts in this busy campaign season!
by Eric Shapiro