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Frank Lautenberg, gaga for Gaga

By Al Kamen
Friday, August 13, 2010; A16

Hurry! It's an event absolutely not to be missed. And, according to an e-mail invite we received Wednesday afternoon, there are "ONLY 3 Tickets Left!"

Yes, it's almost surely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend "Senator Frank R. Lautenberg & Lady Gaga -- the Monster Ball Tour," on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 8 p.m. at Verizon Center.

"Join us in a private suite," the invite says, for only $2,500 a person for PACs and $2,400 for individuals (that's the new max for an individual per an election).

The event was Lautenberg's idea, according to an aide. The senator is a big fan, it turns out. He and his wife, Bonnie, celebrated his 86th birthday in January at a Gaga show at Radio City Music Hall in New York, Politico reported back then.

Goes to show you. Even at 86, "Little Monster" Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is as hip as they come, putting the fun back in fundraising -- even though he's not up for reelection this cycle. He's sure to enjoy the 24-year-old glam-pop megastar's show at Verizon Center, from the privacy of a suite paid for by Lautenberg for Senate.

Her ladyship, born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, is known for her interesting costumes (the fishnet outfit comes to mind), sexually charged routines and jolting pyrotechnics. We're not talking Doris Day here. (Make sure you don't miss the vampire-blood orgy.)

If she wanders by the suite, someone had better get the EMT paddles ready.

The . . . mind . . . reels.

Sky's-the-limit boxes

By the way, for those wondering why there are so many of these political fundraisers around concerts and sports events, the answer is: the money. Let's take, for example, a typical event at Verizon Center. Generally, if a luxury suite is available, we understand they can be rented for somewhere between $4,000 and $8,000. There are a range of seats available in each suite, but let's say the suite has 20 seats, plus two for the candidate and spouse. The campaign pays for the food and booze. So figure $100 per for that. Brings you to around $10,000 or so. You charge $2,500 a head for a political action committee. So that's $50,000. The campaign nets $40,000, minus some expenses.

And you don't have to worry about a tent if it rains.

Speaking of fundraising

Lautenberg may not be up this cycle, but Florida Gov. Charlie Crist sure is. The longtime Republican is running for the Senate as an independent -- but says he'll caucus with the Dems. (One lousy hug with Obama and everything went haywire.)

Crist was in town Wednesday for some television time (CNN) and a grip-and-grin with parts of the old Clinton machine at a gathering at the home of former Hillary Clinton pollster and strategist Mark Penn and fundraiser Nancy Jacobson.

A curious event, given that Bill Clinton is working hard for Rep. Kendrick Meek, who's in a Democratic Senate primary Aug. 24 against businessman Jeff Greene, a really, really rich guy, yachtsman, and pal of former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss. The ex-president has done many events for Meek and is headed to the Sunshine State next week for a fundraiser.

Even so, it was a packed house Wednesday, perhaps some 60 folks, including Clinton administration veterans such as Donald Baer, a former top White House communications aide; James Blanchard, former Michigan governor and ambassador to Canada, and his wife, Janet, a former White House aide; Jeff Trammell, who has advised top Democrats on gay issues; and Fred S. Humphries, Microsoft's managing director for government relations (and son of the former president of Florida A&M).

It wasn't billed as a fundraiser -- the invite was for a "reception" and "drinks with Charlie Crist" -- but there were sign-up sheets around and they weren't exactly refusing to take your money.

Crist, a smooth pol, easily threaded the roomful of Clintonites, talking of his good relations with Florida Democrats. People chatted about his keeping polls open in 2008 in a move seen as a boost to Obama.

Your favorite presidents? he was asked. "George Washington, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy," he replied -- presumably in addition to Clinton. Favorite Florida pols? Leroy Collins, the legendary senator and then governor, and Bob Graham, the former governor and then senator, both Democrats.

Crist will be in a three-way race against Republican Marco Rubio, a former speaker of the Florida House, and either Meek or Greene. Polls show that Crist runs better than Meek against Rubio. If Greene beats Meek in the primary, then Crist could be seen as the favorite in November.

That's why many there felt their hearts were for Meeks, but their heads -- and maybe wallets -- were for Crist.

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