In the hours leading up to the Super Bowl, Gov. Bobby Jindal held forth at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., just south of Miami, shaking hands for $1,000 a pop. The private reception — dubbed "A Black & Gold Brunch & Tailgate" — also offered donors a photo opportunity for an additional $4,000. While the figures are further proof that Jindal likely will show a pile of cash on hand when his 2009 campaign finance report is filed next week, the event also shows that Jindal, now a fixture among GOP presidential hopefuls, is swimming in the deep end of the political pool. The invitation to the event asked donors to RSVP with Meredith O'Rourke, a successful fundraiser who has helped Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (another name that's been bounced around as a Republican contender for the White House) shatter money records in the Sunshine State.
O'Rourke has also aided Sam Brownback, the Kansas senator who made a primary run in the 2008 presidential election. When Brownback was elected senator in 1996, O'Rourke was working with a consulting company named Triad, which came under fire for its questionable tactics in the race. The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs concluded that Triad "used a variety of improper and possibly illegal tactics to help Republican candidates win the election in 1996." During the committee's investigation, O'Rourke sat for a 174-page deposition that lawmakers partially used to explain, among other things, how donors can keep pouring money into campaigns even if maximum legal contributions have been reached.
Last weekend's event wasn't the first time Jindal's campaign and O'Rourke have worked together. Just a year ago, in late February 2009, Jindal traveled to Orlando for a "family vacation" that included a fundraiser at the home of Azra and Nadeem Battla. O'Rourke worked that event as well, back when donors could meet-and-greet Jindal for only $500 a ticket. — Jeremy Alford