The original 80 Fat Cats, including those who are now deceased, are only a portion of those who ultimately crashed at the Clinton White House.
The Clinton administration released records in 1997 showing that 938 guests had stayed at the mansion during the president’s first term, dwarfing the 284 who stayed during the previous administration.
And a Democratic National Committee memo showed that President Bill Clinton personally endorsed the idea of using sleepovers at the White House as a fundraising tactic — “Ready to start overnights right away,” he wrote.
At least another 404 guests stayed the night at the Clinton White House and Camp David after Hillary Clinton began campaigning for U.S. Senate in July 1999.
The invitations for sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom two decades ago drew fire during Bill Clinton’s presidency, as the press dug up details and Congress probed the chief executive’s fundraising efforts.
Many of the original Fat Cats were Clinton friends from Arkansas. But only eight of them have given to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Another 18 Arkansas friends have not, while 10 are no longer living.
But that doesn’t mean Arkansan attitudes toward Hillary Clinton have cooled, said Skip Rutherford, a longtime Clinton strategist and former White House overnight guest.
“The people that I know that were friends of Bill’s are friends of Hillary’s,” said Rutherford, who said he hasn’t contributed to politicians since becoming dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. His wife, Billie, gave $2,700 to the 2016 Clinton campaign. “Politics is very personal in this state. And the Clintons touched a lot of people over the years. And so there’s a lot of loyal, good friends of the Clintons here.”
There are some turncoats: At least four of the former Clinton guests, on top of turning lukewarm on Hillary Clinton, have contributed to her Republican rivals for the nation’s highest office.
Texas oil magnate Truman Arnold, who served as finance chair for the Democratic Party in 1995 and has contributed to Democrats as recently as last year, gave $25,000 to Right to Rise USA, a super PAC backing former GOP Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Arnold, who was in charge of Democratic fundraising in his role as finance chair, was caught up in the Lincoln Bedroom scandal as more than just a guest.
He once told journalists that he used a Clinton White House database to make sure donors were rewarded with perks, including Lincoln Bedroom stays. Arnold did not respond to requests for comment.
Little Rock bank executive Curt Bradbury and his wife Charlotte both gave to the campaign of Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; in addition, Curt Bradbury gave $25,000 to a super PAC supporting New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie and $100,000 to Right to Rise USA, the pro-Bush super PAC.
Bradbury said staying in the White House was “a little bit like sleeping in a museum.” Though he’s a lifelong conservative, he supported Bill Clinton because he is a “native son” of Arkansas.
“Bill’s politics in Arkansas don’t resemble anything I see in the Democratic Party now,” he said. “He was very pragmatic in Arkansas.”
Arkansas banker Warren Stephens, who has given mostly to Republicans but supported Bill Clinton’s first bid for the presidency, has contributed more than $216,000 to support the presidential bids of several GOP candidates, including Bush, Christie, Graham and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has since dropped out of the race.
“The entire Democrat party has shifted pretty hard to the left,” Stephens said. “Our politics are a lot different.”
Several of the Hollywood honchos who once stayed at the Clinton White House have donated to Hillary Clinton, but others have yet to commit.