Fund-Raising Versus Raising Money

Yesterday, I reported that Suri Kasirer, who used to do Bill Thompson’s fund-raising, no longer works for him in that capacity. According to people I spoke with, Kasirer is winding down her fund-raising operations and focusing more on the lobbying part of her business.

But that doesn’t mean she’s stopped helping people raise money.

She helped organize a fund-raiser for David Paterson last week, according to a reader who attended the event and two people I contacted who were familiar with it. (When I called Kasirer’s office, a receptionist there said she is on vacation for the week and declined to comment.)

This gets at the interesting question of when a person who raises money for candidates is not, officially speaking, a fund-raiser.

Theoretically, anybody can slap his or her name on an invitation and ask people to contribute to a campaign. But, as professional fund-raiser Jason Weingartner explains it, the pros do a lot more than that, and, of course, they get paid. According to Weingartner, professional fund-raisers “identify individuals to be on a host committee” and “potential contributors” and handle logistics. “It can be extraordinarily time-consuming,” he said.

According to city Campaign Finance Board spokesman Eric Friedman, people who solicit contributions are listed as “intermediaries” because they actively played a role in transferring money from a donor to a candidate. So people who engage in fund-raising activities are designated, or should be, as fund-raisers.

But it’s different for state races. According to spokesman Bob Brehm of the state Board of Elections, campaign committees are “not obligated to file all their political activities with us, just their financial transactions.” In other words, if someone isn’t paid to raise money, there’s likely to be no evidence of their influence in the state records.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these practices–it just goes to show how hard it can be to see whose fingerprints are on whose campaign. In Kasirer’s case, it means she’ll continue to be a fund-raiser, but it’s going to be harder for the rest of us to tell.

UPDATE: As Liz reports, the CFB issued an opinion clarifying (at the request of Anthony Weiner) the circumstances under which a fund-raising intermediary has to be identified as such.

Fund-Raising Versus Raising Money