Updated July 29 at 10:20 am EDT:
(This event was initially to be fully closed to reporters traveling with Mitt Romney, making it impossible for voters back home to know what Romney was telling the donors. After objections, campaign aides agreed to open the candidate’s remarks — though not the question and answer session — to a small group of press. )
Mitt Romney was planning a completely closed-door meeting in Jerusalem with top campaign donors, closing off a fundraising event to the press accompanying him on his six-day foreign tour.
The fundraisers, an elite group of top Romney supporters that reportedly includes casino magnet Sheldon Adelson, traveled from the U.S. to join the campaign for the event at the luxurious King David hotel. The price of admission: A personal donation of $50,000 or having raised $100,000 for the campaign.
For the past three months, the campaign has agreed to permit media into all fundraising receptions held in public venues. Apparently, the rules are different in Israel. The campaign has barred the press, leaving voters back home no way of knowing what Romney is telling his wealthy backers.
Campaign aides had initially refused to comment on the decision, which may have something to do with Adelson. The prolific party donor has given tens of millions of dollars to outside political groups supporting Republicans this cycle. Adelson is the 35th richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — worth an estimated $17.3 billion.
Restore Our Future, a super-PAC supporting Romney’s campaign for president, amassed $20.7 million in June largely through big checks from familiar Republican donors. More than 60 percent came from just three wealthy families, according to its report to the Federal Election Commission. Adelson and his wife gave $10 million. The Adelson family had supported Newt Gingrich’s failed run for president with $21.5 million given to a super-PAC.
Reporters have repeatedly overheard Romney making politically sensitive statements to donors that he does not say in public. In Florida, he told fundraisers gathered at a waterfront mansion that he would consider drastically reducing the Department of Education and eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
And earlier this month, he was overheard discussing the foreign policy of former President George W. Bush at a private event hosted at the home of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
This will be the second fundraiser held by Romney on his international tour, a trip that aims to highlight his foreign policy credentials for voters back home.
On July 26, nearly 250 donors joined Romney in London for an event that raised at least $2 million, according to campaign aide Spencer Zwick. Romney’s remarks to the reception were open to a small group of reporters. Hosts included donors with ties to banks involved in the Libor rate-fixing scandal, a fact scrutinized in the press.
Donors involved with organizing the Israel fundraiser say the crowd is expected to be largely pro-Israel Americans who traveled from the U.S. for the event.
And if the Romney campaign has its way, what’s said by the fundraisers to the candidate at the King David will stay at the King David.