Don't be fooled by the talking heads and the pundits who ceaselessly tell us that nothing interesting happens at the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions. Lobbyists wine and dine party insiders and elected officials, big donors feast with the party insiders who depend on their deep pockets, and corporations with business before the federal government pick up most of the tab.
All this happens behind the scenes, of course, but we can give you a glimpse of it, thanks to a pair of documents listing events at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St.Paul* that Sunlight unearthed as part of its about-to-be-launched Party Time project.
Compiled by a top Washington lobbying firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, the lists identify 370 parties, receptions, symposiums and other events sponsored by the likes of Bank of America, the Distilled Spirits Council, Eli Lilly, AT&T, and Anheuser Busch. They show that partying will continue at the conventions despite the new ethics law, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which prohibits lobbyists from throwing parties honoring specific lawmakers.
A sampling of the parties listed include:
Democratic National Convention • An opening night party on Sunday at the Democratic National Convention by the lobbying firm Brownstein, Hyatt, where convention organizer, Steven Farber, works, at the Denver Art Museum; • A DNC top donor reception that same night; • A variety of events for delegates sponsored by AT&T; • A "late nite" party at The Loft sponsored by USTelecom on Monday night; • An "FSR Literacy" luncheon on Tuesday sponsored by a host of financial companies. Republican National Convention • A health care luncheon on Tuesday sponsored by Eli Lilly; • A host of parties sponsored by AT&T, including a "Texas honky tonk," a Young Guns" reception, and an African American voter reception and a Hispanic voter reception; • A reception sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters;. • Hospitality suites sponsored by Honeywell, Anheuser Busch, and Citi; • A wrap party hosted by the lobbying firm Patton Boggs.
The lists were unearthed in the data collection for a new Sunlight project, called Party Time, headed by a veteran money-in-politics reporter and investigator, Nancy Watzman. Party Time, which will make its debut the week of August 18, compiles the thousands of invitations to congressional fundraisers that are sent out by fax, email and snail mail to lobbyists, Political Action Committee (PAC) representatives and others around Washington, D.C. and beyond. Visitors to the Web site will be able to find out about the events, often before they happen.
I should add that the lists Quinn & Gillespie compiled are not a complete list of events. Check back the week of August 18th to find out more.
*--Apologies to St. Paul and Bob Collins.