With elections less than three weeks away, the Washington fund-raising season is ending. But congressional Democrats already are gearing up for the next cycle by offering lobbyists a chance to pay for a directory of future fund-raising events.
About a dozen lobbyists have expressed interest in subscribing to the Democratic House and Senate Council's "directory of events" at $75 for 12 monthly lists, a council spokesman said.
Others were not amused by the solicitation. "Can you believe this? Now they want us to pay to keep track of their fund-raisers," said one lobbyist.
"I would be incensed if I got such a letter. It's like going to a restaurant and having them charge you to look at the menu," said George Gould, lobbyist for the National Association of Letter Carriers and a member of the council's board.
The letter, under the signature of Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Michael A. Andrews (D-Tex.), notes the directory "until now was available only to members of Congress" and council members and "is extremely helpful in planning your fund-raising and reception schedule." Aides said neither Dodd nor Andrews saw or approved the letter and a Dodd spokeswoman added that the senator "doesn't like the idea."
Howard Schloss, spokesman for the council, said the solicitation may have been sent prematurely. But the letter to 200 to 300 lobbyists was made in response to about 100 requests for the directory and the fee isn't intended to make money, he said. "All we're doing is covering costs."
Gary Koops, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said his group has no plans to offer paid subscriptions for a list of GOP fund-raising events. "That defies common sense," he said.
And not all fund-raisers are based in Washington. In fact, Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) doesn't believe in them. But though he has more than $1.5 million in his campaign account and token opposition, Dreier is holding a fund-raising breakfast today in his eastern Los Angeles County district. The invitation promises "live phone hook-up" appearances by former presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, plus a "surprise call."
How can he ask people for money with such a surplus on hand? "I talked to people on my committee and literally said, 'I'll cancel it.' They said no."
Dreier has been mentioned as a possible candidate for a Senate race and he didn't deny the possibility. "Regardless of what happens in the Senate, I will face reapportionment and I want to be ready for it," he said.