It started with a luncheon fundraiser at the iconic Beverly Hills
Hotel. Then it was off to the home of the founder of a San Diego
engineering firm, followed by an event at a private Santa Barbara
storage facility for high-end cars. Finally, Facebook co-founder
Mark Zuckerberg hosted an event at his home, where attendees
included former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Governor Christie's campaign won't say how much the popular Republican raised for his reelection bid in California. But tickets to each event cost $3,800 -- the maximum anyone can contribute to a candidate in both the primary and general election under New Jersey state law -- according to invitations obtained by The Record.
The four events in California, which followed a kickoff fundraiser in New Brunswick this month, are just the beginning. Christie will attend events in Virginia, Boston, New York and Florida. Democrats have raised questions about the Virginia event, which is being hosted by Ed Rogers, head of a Washington, D.C., lobbying group that represents AshBritt Inc., the debris removal company Christie hired on an emergency basis after superstorm Sandy.
"We have fundraisers planned all over the country -- California, Florida, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and more -- and many of them are in people's homes, just like with Mark Zuckerberg," Christie's campaign spokesman Michael DuHaime said when asked about the Virginia event.
The California jaunt was Christie's first out-of-state fundraising trip for his reelection bid, but he's no stranger to travel. Last year as vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association he went across the country raising money for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and congressional and gubernatorial candidates. That same association was key to Christie's election bid, spending heavily on television commercials to support him against then-Gov. Jon Corzine.
Despite high approval ratings and polls showing him leading presumptive Democratic challenger state Sen. Barbara Buono by large margins, Christie plans to work hard to win a second term.
"No one is unbeatable," he said during a Feb. 6 event in Sea Girt. "So the idea that somehow because you're very popular in February means you're going to be very popular in November could be, but could not be."
Before hosting a single fundraiser, Christie's campaign raised $2.14 million, according to campaign finance records. Buono's campaign recently announced she reached the $380,000 threshold to qualify for public matching funds.
Christie's California trip included an event at the home of Colleen Coffman, founder of Coffman Specialties Inc., a general contracting and engineering firm; and another at The Hangar, in Santa Barbara.
Zuckerberg and his wife hosted Christie at their Palo Alto home Wednesday night. The fundraiser attracted protesters who rallied against Christie's $7.5 million reduction in funding for family planning services in 2010, part of an effort to balance the state budget. CREDO mobile, a cellphone network that advocates for progressive political change, organized the protest and is also behind an online petition urging Zuckerberg to match money raised at his home "dollar for dollar with a contribution for Planned Parenthood."
Christie's next event is Thursday in New York City, according to a campaign finance schedule obtained by The Record.
The fundraiser at Rogers' home in McLean, Va., is a week later. Rogers is chairman of BGR Group, which represents AshBritt, a Florida-debris removal company the Christie administration hired without taking competitive bids. Christie has said the contract was awarded quickly to aid recovery effort.
Christie's campaign said event host Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell picked the site, but Christie said he doesn't see a conflict.
On March 1, Christie's campaign will hold a fundraiser in Boston. Then on March 7, he's headed to Palm Beach, Fla., where John and Jana Scarpa will have a $3,800-a-person cocktail reception at their home.
John Scarpa, a New Jersey native, co-founded American Cellular Network Corp. in 1982 and pioneered the development of cellular and cable television systems throughout the country. The Palm Beach United Way recently announced that The John F. Scarpa Foundation is matching donations up to $150,000, with the contributions benefiting the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and United Way Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. Christie's wife heads the New Jersey charity.
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