Effron Hosting Obama at Fundraiser in Co-op Where Manners Matter

Apr 24, 2014 4:01 am ET

April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Blair W. Effron’s fellow financiers will have a chance to follow the etiquette advice from the woman who once lived in his New York apartment when he hosts President Barack Obama at a fundraiser there May 14.

The co-founder of investment bank Centerview Partners LLC is having Obama over to raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said two donors who weren’t authorized to discuss the event. His East 79th Street co-op, which according to a 2012 real estate listing has two floors, four bedrooms, 71 windows and a “billiard room with wet bar,” was assembled from units including the apartment that manners authority Emily Post chose after helping to plan the building.

Guests can attend an hour-long reception followed by “a special dinner” with the president for $20,000 each, with a maximum $32,400 contribution, according to an invitation. The fundraiser, whose proceeds will support Democrats fighting to protect their Senate majority, takes place weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court removed limits on the total amount donors can give federal candidates and parties.

Wall Street executives who have likened Obama to villains from ancient Rome or wartime Germany haven’t followed the rules Post published in “Etiquette,” a 1922 guide that preaches civility and compares millionaires who push their opinions to elephants running amok. Rules for introducing a president appear by the book’s second chapter, with additional pointers later for announcing the commander in chief at a formal dinner.

“His title needs no qualifying appendage,” Post wrote.

Big Deals

Effron, 51, has become a key U.S. banker after working on television, alcohol and ketchup deals. His firm advised Time Warner Cable Inc. on a $45.2 billion bid from Comcast Corp. and bourbon maker Beam Inc. on its sale to Suntory Holdings Ltd. this year, and H.J. Heinz Co. on its $23.3 billion sale in June.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin is a counselor at New York-based Centerview. His son, former private-equity executive Jamie Rubin, is a co-host of the May 14 dinner. He was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo last year to help direct New York’s storm-recovery effort.

Donors from the securities and investment industry were among Obama’s top supporters in 2008, then set donation records trying to replace him with Mitt Romney four years later, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. For 2014 elections, about one-third of the $55 million raised from the industry went to Democrats, CRP data updated March 10 show.

Six Seats

Republicans need to gain six seats to control the Senate. Americans for Prosperity, funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch, has targeted Democratic senators Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. The group has run TV ads 21,867 times in House and Senate races through April 21, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG, almost twice as many as anyone else in the 2014 campaign.

The man in charge of fundraising for Democratic senators knows Wall Street. DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet, a Colorado senator whose name is listed below Obama’s on the invitation to the May dinner, worked in debt markets as a managing director of billionaire Philip Anschutz’s Denver-based investment firm.

Obama raised money from investors in New York last month. He attended venture capitalist Alan Patricof’s Democratic National Committee fundraiser on March 11, the same day he headlined a DSCC gathering at the home of Tony James, president of Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest buyout firm. A White House official confirmed the May 14 fundraiser.

‘The Game’

Effron, who wouldn’t comment for the story, bundled contributions for both of Obama’s presidential races, raising more than $500,000 for 2012, according to campaign disclosures.

He bought his co-op two years ago for $24.5 million. A broker involved confirmed that Post lived in one of the units that make up the apartment before her death in 1960, when “Etiquette” was in its 89th printing.

One longtime Democratic donor who hadn’t heard about the dinner, investor Bernard L. Schwartz, said “money is corrupting the process, but I’m playing the game because that’s the only game you play.”

The 88-year-old former chief executive officer of Loral Space & Communications Inc. doesn’t want to “sit at home and watch television,” he said about fundraising. “If you’re going to play the game, you have to play the game.”

--With assistance from Angela Greiling Keane in Washington.