A guide to planning your summer vacation around political fundraisers

Summer is finally here, which means that people are planning their escape plans for vacation. But what if you are a campaign donor who wants to get the most political bang for your buck? Lucky for you, some politicians are trying to put the "fun" in fundraiser this summer (groan), trying to coax people to focus on the upcoming election while they are eating ice cream and barbecue.

Here are some of the fundraisers that could double as Travel section destinations. Also, if you actually consider planning your vacation around these fundraisers, please get help immediately.

(And thanks to Political Party Time for the data.)


President Obama holds 6-month-old Olivia Hughes alongside her grandmother, ABC reporter Ann Compton, after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House last month. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Pretend you are friends with the president and the pretend president

When I say "summer vacation," do you hear "stay at home and binge watch "Breaking Bad?" If so, this summer political fundraiser thrown by the Democratic National Committee offers the best of both worlds. You get to go to sunny Los Angeles, and you get to watch a cross-over episode of "Scandal" featuring characters from the 2014 midterms — including President Obama. Imagine all the jokes you will be able to make to the other people at your table about Benghazi and Olivia Pope!

For only $10,000, you can even get a photo with the president, making this a steal of a summer political fundraiser vacation. If you would like to extend your fundraiser trip, Obama will be attending another fundraiser in Silicon Valley that morning. For $20,000, you can get two photos with the president in one day!

Escape to a beautiful South Dakota resort to shoot birds with Rep. Kristi Noem

Looking for something a little less luxurious for your summer political fundraiser vacation? Would you rather Instagram celebrating your 2nd Amendment rights instead of a boring beach?

How about shooting birds in South Dakota?

Rep. Kristi Noem (R) is holding a pheasant hunting fundraiser Sept. 14 to 16. The event is being held at the Cedar Shore Resort, which apparently hosts a lot of pheasant hunters, according to its Web site.

If pheasant hunting — one of South Dakota's cash crops, according to Noem — isn't your thing, don't worry! This still might be the summer political fundraiser destination for you. Noem is also offering an optional skeet shoot, and the weekend is ending with a big campfire.

And all for only $1,500 (hotel room not included)!

Noem is probably the best guide in South Dakota too, given her biography: "She particularly enjoys pheasant hunting on the homestead and archery elk with her brothers."

A Half-Baked staycation with the Grateful Dead

Can't get time off to go to far-flung fundraisers? That's alright if you live in the area, because several legislators raising money this summer are bringing the fruits of their state to D.C. The best invitation — incidentally the only one to feature a Comic Sans font — comes from Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D). The rooftop party promises music, ice cream and beer, all courtesy of his home state.

The Grateful Dead will be played. Leahy is "one of the world's biggest 'Dead Heads,' " as a 2013 Boston Globe story reminded us.

While riding the little Senate subway from his office building to the Capitol, Leahy smiled as he recalled hosting the Grateful Dead for lunch on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s. Conservative firebrand Strom Thurmond showed up unexpectedly, introducing himself as “the oldest member of the Senate” to frontman Jerry Garcia, Leahy said, imitating the South Carolina senator’s Southern drawl.

“[Garcia] didn’t get a word in edgewise,” Leahy said, adding that he heard Garcia tell one of his fellow rockers, “I never had an experience like that when I used to drop acid.”

There will be Ben & Jerry's. Ben & Jerry's made a "Pat Leahy Sundae" in 2008 (along with Cherry Garcia, of course).

Another option for D.C. workaholics who fear the Sunday shows they'd miss if they skipped town is Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine's (D) celebration of three of the most important Bs in America — barbecue, bourbon and beer — called Smoked 'n Oaked. Kaine has a history of attending barbecues. It's the night after Leahy's fundraiser. One of Kaine's last fundraisers featured the greatest name starting with "B" in America — Beyonce.

Sampling Iowa tapas with Chris Christie

Want to have a summer political fundraiser that screams "America?" Then you should probably attend a fundraiser that's being held at the state fairgrounds, like Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). It only costs $25 to get in — although a photo with special guest New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will set you back a few more zeroes.

This fundraiser also features the once in a lifetime opportunity of discovering what "Iowa tapas" are. One can only hope that, like most foods at the Iowa State Fair, they will be served a la stick.

However, this summer fundraiser loses points because of its timing — it is a week after the American Shetland Pony National Congress and several weeks before the Iowa State Fair, which means you won't get a chance to see the Butter Cow.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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Aaron Blake · July 8