Inside Oakland Hills’ long history as a must-stop for fundraising presidents and governors


Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer raised more than $80,000 at a September 2018 fundraiser in Oakland Hills during her successful campaign for the state’s highest office, according to campaign finance records from the state. ‘State.

“Some of the (golf) clubs in the city don’t have political events – Oakland Hills has always done that, which has been great,” said former U.S. Rep. Dave Trott, R-Birmingham, member. of Oakland Hills since 1988. .

As a candidate and congressman, Trott held at least eight fundraisers for his congressional campaigns in Oakland Hills, according to FEC records.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who grew up in Bloomfield Hills, held two fundraisers in Oakland Hills during his unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.

In 2007, the late Arizona Senator John McCain held a fundraiser in Oakland Hills at the start of his unsuccessful second run for president, according to FEC records.

Former House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio held court with other Republican donors at a 2015 rally in Oakland Hills, the last year he was president.

The nearly endless list of politicians who have held fundraisers in Oakland Hills includes former Governor Rick Snyder, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, former U.S. Representative Thad McCotter, businessman John James, former State Representative Mike McCready and former State Senator Jim Marleau.

Republican-backed Michigan Supreme Court justices Brian Zahra, Beth Clement and David Viviano also raised money for their campaigns at the golf club, according to state records.

Republican political consultant Stu Sandler said he’s been to “dozens” of fundraisers for GOP candidates in Oakland Hills.

“It was a magnificent setup,” Sandler said. “Obviously I’m not a great golfer, but the courses were amazing. … It’s absolutely devastating.”

Trott remembers Kentucky senator Rand Paul and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who both ran for president in the 2016 cycle, being among other Republican candidates who roamed the halls of the club- house.

In May 2007, former Democratic President Bill Clinton was staying at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham while in state to deliver a commencement address at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Trott said.

Staff at the Townsend Hotel contacted Mike Dietz, then Trott’s business partner, at Dietz Sports & Entertainment Management and told Dietz the former two-term president wanted to play golf at Oakland Hills, Trott said.

To do so in the exclusive private country club, a member must sponsor a guest. Trott agreed to be Clinton’s godfather.

Trott, who now runs a Birmingham-based property and business investment firm called Trott Management Inc., said he and Clinton started on the early holes together. Afterward, Clinton split up to play golf with two fellow Democrats — former Gov. Jim Blanchard and Joel Ferguson, the Lansing-area real estate developer, Democratic megadonor, and former longtime Michigan State University administrator.

“I’m not sure his score on the first hole was accurate, but I wasn’t going to question (Clinton),” Trott said.

Blanchard, whose Beverly Hills home is half a mile from the Oakland Hills club, recalled Thursday that Clinton flew to Detroit from Moscow, where he had just attended the funeral of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

“The members were all in the clubhouse looking out the windows,” Blanchard said.

Despite his flight being jet-lagged, the 42nd president “played pretty well” on the ties in Oakland Hills, Blanchard said.

“It’s true he took mulligans,” Blanchard said. “But we all did.”


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