Who is paying $31K to dine with Obama in Harlem?

March 29, 2011, 11:36 PM UTC

Any interest in paying $30,800 for dinner and a chance to chat with President Barack Obama about the economy and conflicts in the Middle East?

Chances are you’re not invited unless you’re among Obama’s uber rich supporters. Tonight, about 50 financiers, businesspeople and Washington elite will gather for an exclusive dinner in New York City’s Red Rooster Harlem.

A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee says the event, where Obama will chat with guests about everything from the economy to conflicts in Libya and the Middle East, is expected to raise about $1.5 million for the organization. Though the committee wouldn’t divulge the relatively small guest list, a source says many of the President’s supporters dating back from 2007 and 2008 are expected to attend.

They include:

President and co-founder of Chelsea Piers LP Tom Bernstein and wife Andrea. Indeed, there’s a ring of irony to this, given that Roland Betts, who founded Chelsea Piers with Bernstein in 1995, is one of George W. Bush’s best friends. The two were classmates and fraternity brothers at Yale University and Betts was the lead owner in Bush’s Texas Rangers partnership.

Also attending is Evercore Partners (EVR) President and CEO Ralph Schlosstein and wife Jane Hartley, co-founder of the Observatory Group, an economic and political advisory firm. Prior to entering the private sector and running the New York City-based investment bank, Schlosstein served in the public sector for many years. In the mid-1970s, he was an economist for the Congressional Joint Committee and then went on to work in the Carter Administration – first as deputy to the assistant secretary of the Treasury Department and later as associate director of the White House Domestic Policy staff.

Under the Carter Administration, Schlosstein worked with financier Orin Kramer, also an expected guest. Kramer is a general partner of the hedge fund Boston Provident, LP.

Another likely show is Michael Kempner, member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, an organization that advises the President on the best ways for citizens, nonprofits, businesses and governments to work together and respond to community needs. Kempner is also founder, president and CEO of MWW Group, a public relations firm.

And then there’s also Andy Tobias, author and treasurer of the Democratic National Committee. For several years, Tobias had a column in Esquire, Playboy and Time.

All of the expected attendees either did not return a call before publication or declined to comment.

Indeed, the Red Rooster might be an unexpected and even arguably understated location, but the Harlem restaurant (which opened December 2010) was co-founded by notable Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson, who co-owns Aquavit restaurant in New York City and cooked at the state dinner Obama hosted for the prime minister of India in 2009. Tonight’s dinner is the first of several across the country this year to benefit the DNC. The dinner will follow a larger event of about 250 guests at the Studio Museum, also in Harlem.

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