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Posted at 02:02 PM ET, 07/12/2011

Beat the heat, raise the campaign money

How can you tell when it’s summer in Washington? No, it’s not the suffocating heat, it’s the blizzard of invitations.

Yes, it’s fundraising time here in River City, a time when politicians lean heavily on lobbyists for campaign cash -- sweetened by an invite to nifty places like Sun Valley or Lake Tahoe or The Cape or, closer to home, the tony Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia.

Remember, for the best events, space is limited, so you (that is, your firm’s political action committee or PAC) has to write those big checks tout suite. Our lawmakers are willing to go wherever the money is, wherever it takes them, no matter how beautiful the site.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “with special guests Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)” is inviting you, for a $10,000 contribution, to visit him for a mid-August weekend at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort and Spa.

The scenic beauty and a few spa treatments will relax you as you shell out $10,000 to his Searchlight Tahoe Victory Fund — $5,000 for Reid’s leadership PAC and $2,500 each for the “special guests.”

Can’t wait until then to see Whitehouse? Then join him for a weekend in Newport, R.I., starting July 22, to hang out with the down-home yachting crowd in Newport for only $5,000 for two. (Sorry, the deadline’s passed for you to get the discounted hotel group rate.)

Then there’s the invitation to join IdahoRepublican Sen. Mike Crapo and his wife, Susan, in Sun Valley on Aug. 16 for the “Crapo Hook’N’Bullet,” featuring “horseback riding, fly fishing, trap shooting and the best BBQ in the west with a live country band.” He only wants $2,500 per person.

If you can’t make it to Idaho, you can join Crapo for a “Trap and Skeet Shoot” on Monday morning July 25 at the PG County Trap and Skeet Center. You can drop $500 for an individual or $2,000 for your PAC at the lunch and be back to your office by early afternoon.

Hey! Just in time to clean up for Wisconsin GOP Rep. Tom Petri’s (R) “Annual Ice Cream Social” at 5 p.m. that day on the Hill. It’s $100 for one scoop, which sounds kinda pricey. But for $500 you can have “Unlimited Scoops.”

You can compare that ice cream to the Ben & Jerry’s served by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy at his annual “Ice Cream Social,” where kids under 16 are free and contributions range from just $50 to $1,000. It’s July 19 on the rooftop of the Jones Day Building.

If you can’t make it for breakfast Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), join him for “Martinis & Mayhem” at the same location after work on July 27 ($1,000 PAC, $250 per person). “Mayhem” sounds the more interesting of the two but maybe things could get ugly if you stay too long.

So here’s what you do: Drop by Sensenbrenner’s for a quick martini and then catch the special bus to Wolf Trap with Florida Republican Rep. Connie Mack and his wife, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) for a Lynyrd Skynyrd Concert. Only one member of the original legendary group is alive, but it’s only $1,000 per ticket.

For pop fans, Georgia GOP Rep. Paul Broun’s offering a Taylor Swift concert August 3 at the Verizon Center for only a $1,000 a person or $1,500 a couple.

Tennis fans can get courtside seats at the U.S. Open first round in New York Aug. 29 and lunch with Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for only $5,000 per PAC and $2,500 per individual. “Limited seating available.”

You can also stay close to home and have some fine food at Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper’s “Crab Feast” on the Hill July 20, featuring “all things Delaware,” including Dogfish Head Beer. Only $100 for an individual, $1,000 for a PAC.

The money chase continues in the fall, with West Virginia Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall’s Sept. 30 weekend at the world class Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs with excellent tennis and golf for only $2,500 per person or $3,000 for a couple. (Note: reserve by Aug. 5)

South Dakota GOP Rep. Kristi Noem, a newcomer and tea-party favorite has joined the swing of things, “kicking off her first South Dakota pheasant hunt” on Oct. 28 for a three-day trip including one dinner at her home there. (Only 15 spots available, so sign-up soon.) $5,000 per PAC, $2,500 for an individual.

Many lawmakers, such as Reid, Noem or Rahall, feature events highlighting their home states. But that’s not always the case. Missouri GOP Sen. Roy Blunt, for example, is having a “Fund Fall Retreat” weekend starting Oct. 21 at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, S.C., a world-class resort right on the water. (Probably easier than shleppng to Missouri.)noem and phe

Business as usual in the capital of the world’s greatest democracy.

Follow Al Kamen on Twitter.

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