D.C. fundraisers canceled in wake of Arizona shootings

Members of Congress called an abrupt halt to their political activities to show respect for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and the other victims of Saturday’s shooting in Arizona.

Lawmakers had scheduled various fundraisers and meet-and-greet events with lobbyists and other donors this week, but those were canceled as Democrats and Republicans offered a unified expression of sympathy for Giffords and the other victims.

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Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who is running for mayor of Chicago, was scheduled to go ahead with a Chicago fundraiser on Monday evening featuring “American Idol” star Jennifer Hudson.

Hudson, who also won an Oscar for her role in “Dreamgirls,” suffered a personal loss in 2008 when her mother, Darnell Donerson, and brother, Jason Hudson, were found shot to death in Donerson’s home in Chicago’s South Side.

She formed a foundation to care for families who have lost relatives to a violent crime and has spoken against gun violence. On Sunday, Emanuel unveiled an anti-crime proposal that includes putting an additional 1,000 police officers on Chicago streets.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Democratic and Republican fundraisers who took a short break after the midterm election found their offices strangely quiet on Monday after President Obama ordered federal flags to be lowered to half-staff. 

They said the quiet reminded them of the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, when Democratic and Republican lawmakers stood together on the front steps of the Capitol to sing “God Bless America.”

“As far as I know, everything is canceled this week,” said Matt Keelen, a GOP lobbyist and former fundraiser for House members. “This reminds me somewhat of what happened after Sept. 11. A couple people after that tried to do events or calls and they were severely criticized.”

Fundraisers and lobbyists said it would be too insensitive to write checks while the nation grieves over the assault on Giffords and the death of six bystanders, including her aide, Gabe Zimmerman.

They noted it would be impossible to hold fundraisers while some lawmakers and aides are still in mourning.

“We had a bunch of meetings that we canceled out of respect for what’s going on,” said a Republican fundraising consultant.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the NewDemPAC political action committee, canceled an event at Tortilla Coast restaurant scheduled for Tuesday evening.

“Like you, I am very shocked and saddened by what happened in Tucson yesterday,” Smith wrote in an e-mail to donors. “Gabby is not only a tremendous leader in our caucus, but also a friend, and we will be closely supporting her family and staff in the difficult days ahead.” 

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), one of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) best friends, canceled a fundraising breakfast that was scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Capitol Hill Club. A spokeswoman for Simpson said it would be rescheduled at a later date.

Lawmakers have even canceled the fundraising phone calls that take up much of their time when they’re not voting or sitting in committee meetings.

“We canceled everything,” said Bruce Kieloch, a Democratic fundraising consultant who works with about a dozen members of Congress. “We cancelled our fundraising calls this week. We canceled all the prep time.”

But political life is expected to return to normal — and soon.

The GOP consultant predicted that fundraising events scheduled for next week would take place.



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