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THE NATION

Clinton's back in Beverly Hills tonight

Ron Burkle hosts a fundraising dinner for 700 -- probably not including David Geffen.

March 24, 2007|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

A month after billionaire David Geffen publicly declared she couldn't win the presidency, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is bringing her campaign to the home of Geffen's neighbor in Beverly Hills, fellow billionaire Ron Burkle, for a fundraiser tonight that is expected to raise millions.

It's a neighborhood Clinton knows well. She has visited repeatedly, as the first lady and as New York's junior senator. Since making her first run for public office in 1999, Clinton has mined at least $400,000 from California's most famous ZIP code, 90210, more than any other area in the state.

Tonight's gala, a dinner for roughly 700, is being hosted by investor Burkle at Green Acres, his home off Benedict Canyon adjacent to Geffen's place. But given Geffen's broadside at the Clintons in February, he is not expected to drop by.

Burkle and his family have given relatively little money directly to Sen. Clinton's Senate campaigns over the years -- $10,200, campaign finance reports show.

But Burkle has been one of Hillary and Bill Clinton's biggest patrons, having hosted at least three events for her and several others for him. Burkle was among the earliest donors to Hillary Clinton, giving her $1,000 in June 1999 as she embarked on her first Senate campaign.

Between 1999 and 2006, Clinton raised more than $6.8 million from Californians, the second-largest source of money by state, behind the $24 million from individuals in New York.

Tonight's donors are contributing up to $4,600, the most permitted under federal law for the 2008 primary and general elections. Organizers predict the haul could be $2.5 million; the amount won't be publicly available until candidates file their first-quarter campaign finance reports in mid-April.

"We're doubling what I thought we could do," said Noah Mamet, a Los Angeles consultant who is on Clinton's national fundraising committee and plans to attend the event.

Earlier today, Clinton was to be feted by Ted Waitt, Gateway Computer co-founder, in San Diego.

Sunday, she plans to travel north for fundraisers in Woodside and Redwood City. The first is being hosted by Susie Tompkins Buell, founder of the Esprit clothing line, and Cisco Systems counsel Mark Chandler; the second by Oracle Corp. President Charles Phillips.

"People are energized about her candidacy. It's very exciting," said Ari Swiller, a former Burkle aide who is a partner at the alternative energy firm Renewable Resources Group and is raising money for Clinton.

Burkle's Green Acres mansion was once owned by silent-era film star Harold Lloyd. It shares a property line with Geffen's spread, once owned by movie giant Jack Warner of Warner Bros.

From all indications, the two remain neighborly.

The same cannot be said for Geffen and the Clintons.

Geffen attracted attention last month by telling a New York Times columnist of the couple, "Everybody in politics lies, but they do it with such ease, it's troubling."

The comments appeared as Geffen co-hosted a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

At the time, organizers said the Obama event raised $1.3 million.

dan.morain@latimes.com

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