GOP congressmen from Illinois, Kentucky to raise cash over trips to Napa, Beverly Hills

If you’re forced to spend a weekend hobnobbing with donors, do it up right. And don’t host the event in your district (where the local economy could surely use the boost). Go somewhere fabulous.

Hats off to Republican Reps. John Shimkus (Ill.) and Ed Whitfield (Ky.), who are beginning their five-week August vacation “district work period” panning for gold in sunny California over multi-day fundraising retreats, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time database.

Shimkus, who certainly knows how to party (last summer he had a fundraiser at the New Kids on the Block, Boys II Men and 98 Degrees concert in D.C.!), is currently at the Solage Calistoga resort in Napa Valley. The details of the invitation, as obtained by Sunlight, boasts five to six wine tours on a private bus over two days. Otherwise you can just relax poolside:


(Credit: Solage Calistoga)

The Shimkus campaign suggests an individual donation of $1,500 to the “JOHN S Fund” or $3,000 from a PAC. The PAC has already spent $14,031 at the Solage, according to OpenSecrets. The congressman went out to Cali a little early, tweeting a picture from the Twitter headquarters (meta), which is in San Francisco, on Monday. But he has not forgotten the good people of Illinois’s 15th Congressional District — Shimkus returns home Saturday for “Champaign County Farm Day.”

Whitfield will be down in L.A. starting Friday playing host at the luxury Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, where Hollywood starlets and celebrity icons — including Elizabeth Taylor and the Beatles — were once patrons.

The suggested contribution to the “Thoroughbred PAC,” Whitfield’s leadership committee, is also $1,500 per person and $3,000 from a PAC. This campaign cycle, the PAC has spent $35,000 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, according to OpenSecrets. There will be a welcome reception in the Polo Lounge (great dirty martinis), and the campaign has reserved a poolside cabana for Saturday.


The Beverly Hills Hotel pool (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for WWE)

Whitfield and his friends will probably have an easier time than usual getting a seat at the bar, as most of Hollywood is boycotting the hotel because it is owned by the sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who has implemented harsh Islamic sharia law in his state, punishing “crimes” such as homosexuality and adultery.

Flacks for both lawmakers did not respond to our e-mails seeking comment. Neither are in tough reelection races.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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