Politicians hunt and fish for the big bucks

Al Kamen
Columnist July 12, 2011

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 big-time 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.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Remember: For the best events, space is limited, so you (that is, your firm’s political action committee, have to write those big checks tout de suite. Our lawmakers are willing to go wherever the money can be had, 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 (D-R.I.), is inviting you, for a $10,000 contribution, to visit him for a mid-August weekend at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe.

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 till 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 group hotel rate.)

Then there’s the invitation to join Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) 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 wants a mere $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 Prince George’s 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 the “Annual Ice Cream Social” by Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) 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 Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) 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 Jones Day’s building overlooking the Capitol dome.

If you can’t make it for breakfast Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), join him for “Martinis & Mayhem” at the same location after work on July 27 ($1,000 per 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 Reps. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) for a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Only one member of the legendary original group is alive, but it’s only $1,000 per ticket.

For pop fans, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is offering a Taylor Swift concert Aug. 3 at Verizon Center for only a $1,000 a person or $1,500 a couple.

Tennis fans can get courtside seats for the first round of the U.S. Open on Aug. 29 in New York, plus lunch with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), 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 on the Hill come July 20. That’s when Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is holding his “Crab Feast,” 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 Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) offering a 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.)

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), 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.) It’s $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. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), 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.)

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

A different Damascus?

A note arrived Tuesday afternoon from Syrian Embassy press secretary Ahmed Salkini .

“The time has come for me to step down from my current position and move on,” he said. “I have recently accepted an exciting job offer in the private sector and will be moving to Maryland.

“As many of you have pointed out, I have been conspicuously silent since the beginning of the events in Syria, and at times, even unresponsive. For the latter, I apologize.

“I leave my position during the most difficult, yet promising of times in Syria’s modern history. I have been pained by every drop of Syrian blood lost. Still, I am certain of, and comforted by, the fact that Syria will emerge from this crisis more democratic, unified, freer, and stronger than ever.”

Now, if a few generals follow suit . . .

One world, two towers

Not long ago some people were talking about how it might be a good idea to lop 10 stories off the top of the 40-story U.N. headquarters in Manhattan. Now it appears the United Nations instead may be getting a second tower — we’re hearing around 35 stories — to consolidate 1,000 or so employees who are working in nearby leased buildings.

Seems the New York legislature has approved a bill — which Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly going to sign — that leaves it up to city and state officials to work out a deal on the building, which would be built on a small (just over half an acre) playground across 42nd Street.

Since we’re talking about Manhattan, there remain numerous obstacles, including whether the world body and the new building’s owner, the city’s U.N. Development Corp., can come to terms on the rent and such.

Will they name it the John R. Bolton Tower?

Follow In the Loop on Twitter: @AlKamenWP.

SECTION: {section=politics, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=15, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=3, max_items_to_display_top=15, moderation_required=false}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=15, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=politics, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=15, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=3, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=3, max_items_to_display_top=15, moderation_required=false}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, comments_period=3, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=15, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=3, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Show Comments