Fundraiser in Chief: Presidents and the Politics of Campaign Cash, Brendan J. Doherty

Reviewed by Kenneth M. Miller

Court decisions and statutory changes have steadily hollowed out the framework of campaign finance regulation first established in the 1970s, leaving more centralized fundraising and few remaining limits on donations. As the highest-profile national figures in their party, presidents have become more important in this system. But the fundraising efforts of presidents have drawn far less scholarly attention than that of candidates, parties, donors, and interest groups. Brendan Doherty’s Fundraiser in Chief addresses this gap.

Doherty characterizes presidential fundraising as an instrument of presidential power just as important for pursuing the president’s agenda as veto threats or public speeches. Presidents’ most precious commodity is their limited time. The allocation of time to raise funds reveals presidents’ preferences, which Doherty shows are their own reelection first and the winning and maintaining of congressional majorities second.

For his analyses, Doherty assembles an impressive dataset of nearly 2,200 presidential fundraising appearances starting with those of Jimmy Carter through those of Donald Trump. The assembled record shows that modern presidents have adapted to the evolving campaign finance landscape. First, presidents have steadily increased the time they dedicate to fundraising events. Second, in

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