Both Parties, but No Party, at Quinn Gillespie

By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, December 6, 2007

The folks over at Quinn Gillespie and Associates have gone from being one of the merriest bipartisan firms in town to downright humbugish.

Founded by former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn and current Bush White House counselor Ed Gillespie, the firm has decided to cancel its annual holiday party -- which in years past has drawn a political Who's Who to the firm's lavish Connecticut Avenue headquarters.

Despite whispers that new lobbying rules prompted the cancellation, Quinn assured us the "new ethics regime" on Capitol Hill played no role.

"We decided to take a pause this year principally because we have been focused on trying to have our best year ever (which we will) and because that has left little time to attend to our traditional festivities," Quinn said in an e-mail.

Most other lobbying firms and associations have not shied away from the party circuit. Allied Domecq, a major spirits corporation, held its annual holiday bash Tuesday night at the Sewall-Belmont House two blocks from the Capitol, drawing such bold-faced names as Senator/soon-to-be-lobbyist Trent Lott (R-Miss.). And the Recording Industry Association of America just sent out invites to its holiday bash next Wednesday at Ibiza, the club in Northeast Washington, with Wyclef Jean as the entertainment.

While new laws restrict gifts from lobbyists, such parties are still allowed under the "widely attended event" exemption: Events sponsored by firms or associations are cleared for members and aides if dozens of non-Hill folks are also in attendance. As long as that exemption is in force, Quinn promises to be much more jolly next year.

"I will not ever play the role of Scrooge again, and we will resume our best-party-in-town tradition next year," he said.

Veep's Rubber-Chicken Mini-Tour

It's not easy, but we found more Republicans willing to have Vice President Cheney campaign for them. After stumping for Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R) in Texas earlier this week, Cheney is scheduled to be in Kansas tomorrow to help raise cash for GOP state Sen. Nick Jordan, who's running to unseat incumbent Rep. Dennis Moore (D).

Until this week, Cheney had headlined just one fundraiser for an incumbent House Republican: vulnerable Rep. Sam Graves (Mo.). Jordan is the first GOP challenger to solicit Cheney's campaign help.

It's not a "hunting with Dick" fundraiser, but attendees can get shot -- with a camera, that is. It will cost $200 to get in the door, $2,300 for a photo with the vice president and $5,000 for a photo and "recognition" at the reception.

Larry Craig, Now in Verb Form

If they weren't already, sex-scandal-plagued Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho) are now officially part of the pop culture lexicon. Tuesday's episode of ABC's "Boston Legal" featured the show's leading character, Denny Crane, played by William Shatner, getting busted in a men's room sex sting.

Shatner winds up a defendant after undercover cops mistake his wide stance for the international symbol to solicit sex in a bathroom stall. Crane's best buddy, played by James Spader, tells his client/friend that he's being "Larry Craiged." They decide to fight the charges in court (unlike Craig, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a real-life men's room sex sting).

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