Kevin McCarthy raised $12.3 million on Wednesday evening at his first major fundraising event since his bitter battle for the House speaker's gavel last month.
The event, hosted by key McCarthy ally and mega lobbyist Jeff Miller, represented a record-fundraising haul for the California Republican. It came one day after he sat quietly behind President Joe Biden for the State of the Union.
The cost of attendance for the fundraiser was $50,000, raised or contributed. The requested contribution for co-hosts was $100,000, and for hosts, $250,000. The money raised will support McCarthy's campaign, his leadership PAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The event illustrated the new power structures and fault lines that have popped up in a Washington now marked by divided government. Holding the levers of power in the House, McCarthy - already a prodigious fundraiser - has become an even bigger draw. And those who are stuffing his coffers have additional incentives to do so.
Miller and the event's co-sponsors - a number of whom once worked for the now-speaker - represent clients with stakes across major policy fights before Congress: PhRMA, Mastercard, Apple, Altria, the American Petroleum Institute and the American Investment Council, among others.
McCarthy's close relationship with K Street has earned him ire from his own party. Shortly after Republican control of the House became clear last fall, Miller's firm registered several new clients, including Oracle and the PGA Tour.
For McCarthy world, the scene at the Conrad Hotel, where the event was held, offered a chance to celebrate following a speakership journey mired in tumult. His historic crusade for the position spanned four days and 15 rounds of votes, culminating with major concessions to conservative members that could threaten his hold on the post.
Nearly all Republican House committee chairs also attended the fundraiser - including Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers, Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, Oversight Chair James Comer, Appropriations Chair Kay Granger, Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith and many others.
Their presence was touted by two of the hosts as a sign of Republican unity. Sam Geduldig, one of the event's co-hosts and co-CEO of the firm CGCN, emphasized McCarthy's members were eager to show up for him on Wednesday evening. John Stipicevic, a former McCarthy staffer-turned lobbyist at CGCN and another fundraiser co-host, maintained that McCarthy was in "lock step" with his committee chairs and his conference.
"While all the pundits on national TV stations or all over the world, talking about the deals that he cut - which they can't explain by the way - weakened him as a speaker, I don't think his members view him as weakened in any way at all," said Geduldig. "I think he's much stronger, and gaining strength, and gaining momentum every minute."
As the event came to a close, Bill Barr, a former attorney general under the Trump administration, was spotted leaving the Conrad.
McCarthy's camp intends to beat its previous record for the first quarter of a year: $31.5 million in 2022. Though a spokesman for the speaker noted that fundraising going into 2024 will be crowded with higher profile races.
The event was originally scheduled for Tuesday - the day of the State of the Union - at the Waldorf Astoria but was moved for logistical reasons, the spokesperson said.