In the first of three presidential candidate fundraisers in Teton County this week, a team of high-profile Republican politicians and donors held a dinner Monday for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.
The conservative crowd spent the evening looking over the valley from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, where 100 attendees gathered to hear from top administration officials. The guests contributed upwards of $1 million to the Trump Victory Committee — a joint fundraising venture with the Republican National Committee — an RNC official told the News&Guide.
Among headliners at the fundraiser were Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, both senior advisers to the president. Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting White House chief of staff, also attended.
The Jackson Hole soiree broke into the Twittersphere on Tuesday, when New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman and Axios reporter Jonathan Swan tweeted anecdotes from those in the audience.
“President Trump phoned into the dinner,” Swan wrote. “He called Jared, and Jared stands up and said “your dad’s on the line” … Ivanka said ‘hi, daddy’ and put the phone next to the microphone so the donors could hear the president.”
Swan later added that a White House official refuted this recollection, saying Ivanka Trump called the president “dad,” not “daddy.”
Haberman tweeted that “there was a concerted show of optimism about Trump’s reelection chances” from the administration delegation, who argued that Trump’s warnings of a “socialism” takeover are connecting with voters.
An invitation to the event obtained by the News&Guide showed ticket costs running up to five digits. The base price for a single person was $1,000, while couples could secure a “photo opportunity” for $15,000, and a photo opportunity plus a seat at the “roundtable” for $35,000.
The invitation described Ivanka Trump, Kushner and Mulvaney as “special guests” at the event, and stated that their participation “is not a solicitation of funds.” Under federal law, administration officials are not allowed to campaign in their official capacities.
Also expected at the event were former Vice President Dick Cheney, who owns a home in Teton Pines, and his daughter, Wyoming’s U.S. representative, Liz Cheney, who holds the third-highest position in House GOP leadership as Republican Conference chair. Cheney’s office did not respond Tuesday to confirm whether the Cheneys attended the fundraiser but did send a statement of support Monday.
“Rep. Cheney is honored to be co-hosting this event and working hard to support President Trump’s reelection,” a spokesperson for Cheney said in the statement. “The president’s policies are benefiting Wyoming and the nation.”
A handful of wealthy Jackson Hole GOP donors made the guest list, including Jay and Karen Kemmerer, who own Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Before Monday’s event Jay Kemmerer had already donated $200,000 to the Trump reelection campaign starting in September 2017, according to Federal Election Commission records. The Kemmerers have also given hundreds of thousands more to the Republican National Committee and other conservative politicians, including Liz Cheney and Paul Ryan, former speaker of the House of Representatives.
Gail Cook, owner of Bear Lodge LLC, was also listed on the invitation, along with billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade Joe Ricketts and his wife, Marlene.
Executives of the Republican National Committee planned to make an appearance as well, including Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Co-Chairman Tommy Hicks Jr., and Finance Chairman Todd Ricketts, Joe Ricketts’ son.
As fundraising efforts ramp up for the 2020 presidential race, Democratic presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker are also making time to court wealthy Jackson Hole donors. Klobuchar — who as a young woman joined her father on a cross-country bicycle ride from Minneapolis to the Tetons — held a cocktail party and dinner in Teton County on Tuesday. Booker will be in town Sunday.
The region has often won the attention of national politicians over the years, drawing a long list of congressional and presidential candidates, including John Kerry and Barack Obama.
More recently, the past two speakers of the house, Ryan and John Boehner, have used the Tetons as a backdrop for annual GOP donor retreats. Almost exactly a year ago Ivanka Trump and Kushner were among the guests at Ryan’s gathering.