RNC Diary: The Price Of The Party
Mitt Romney entertains big donors far from the camera's eye.
Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands.
The floating party, hosted by a Florida developer on his yacht "Cracker Bay," was one of a dozen exclusive events meant to nurture those who have raised more than $1 million for Romney's bid.
Lobbyists throw parties and receptions for their favored members of Congress.
AT&T, which seeks government approval to charge consumers for expanded use of the internet, took over a restaurant across the water from the Tampa Convention Center to entertain public officials and other VIPs all week. When ABC News showed up, employees first tried to hide the sign with the honored guests' names. The manager then threatened to call police if the cameras weren't turned off.
Rules to limit lobbyists are cheerfully skirted.
It’s actually against Congressional ethics rules for lobbyists to throw parties for lawmakers at the national conventions—thanks to a 2007 reform bill passed in the wake of the Abramoff scandals—but Monday night showed that the system can easily be gamed.
For example, only about a half-mile from the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a collection of big transportation companies threw a party for transportation “leaders” in Congress. Actually, to be technically accurate, a front group called GOP Convention Strategies sponsored the party—and that’s how everyone involved avoided violating ethics rules. Since GOP Convention Strategies is not a registered lobbyist, it was free to throw a party for whomever it wanted. But it was crystal clear to everyone involved who was paying for the party, and what the goal was.
This is American democracy as viewed from Tampa Bay. Nor will the spectacle in Charlotte be very different. (Although President Obama is notoriously less solicitous of his big-dollar donors than Romney. Decide for yourself whether that reflects Obama's superior independence, greater irritability, or just a tighter schedule.)
Here's a site that attempts to keep track of the action.