Party Animals

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Who knows, maybe the curbs on ostentatious currying of favor with lawmakers inside the Beltway (no golf games funded by Exxon! No sandwiches!) have sent corporations and their lobbyists into overdrive because they're packing in enough partying (read: writing checks to candidates) during the conventions in Denver and the Twin Cities to stay hungover well into October.

The TV cameras may be focused in on the convention floor and the rousing speeches on party unity but there's a whole lot of alternative programming going on:


The courting of donors and fundraisers is in high gear at the Democratic National Convention. Those who helped underwrite the four-day event, raised money for congressional candidates or worked to bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the national party to aid Obama's presidential campaign mingle with celebrities and politicians at dozens of parties, receptions and luncheons.

"It is non-stop," Ben Barnes, a former Texas lieutenant governor, said of the whirlwind of activities. Barnes has contributed more than $100,000 to federal candidates, parties and congressional fundraising committees in the past two years, campaign records show. "After four or five days, it becomes a physical endurance test," he said. "Can you stay up past 1 o'clock in the morning? Can you go to one more party?"

[ . . .]

Don Fowler, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, said the care and feeding of top donors at a convention gives party leaders the chance to reward contributors and motivate them to continue raising cash for the sprint to Election Day.

"You want to be nice to them, make sure they have nice hotels and good transportation and good seats," he said. "The party also can provide access to important decision makers. … That's what pleases contributors."

Truth be told a little quality access to our lawmakers would please not just contributors, but all voters. Unfortunately not all checkbooks are created equal.