At least 370 parties planned for national conventions


There will be no shortage of parties when the Republican National Convention comes to town in September. According to a report released today by the Sunlight Foundation, there are at least 370 private galas planned for the conventions in St. Paul and Denver. The list, compiled by Washington lobbying firm Quinn Gillespie & Associates, presently includes 75 bashes slated for the Twin Cities.

Among the highlights: Sammy Hagar will headline a party at First Avenue for the GOP’s southern delegation on convention eve; Trocaderos Nightclub & Restaurant will be the venue for a “Texas Honky Tonk” featuring Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy and John Rich on day two; and the American Conservative Union Foundation will host a “Tribute to the Reagan Revolution” at Aqua on the closing night of the convention.

As the Sunlight Foundation points out, many of the galas are sponsored by corporations and lobbying firms undoubtedly interested in making a memorable impression on legislators. High-powered lobbying shop Patton Boggs will be hosting a wrap party at a location not yet determined. AT&T will sponsor at least seven events during the four-day gathering, including an African American voters reception at Karma. Honeywell and Anheuser Busch will be staffing daily hospitality suites at Patrick McGovern’s Pub. Even Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the supposedly broke, quasi-public home loan giants — are getting in on the fun, hosting a shindig at the Graves 601 Hotel.

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which prohibits lobbyists from throwing parties honoring individual lawmakers, was designed to tamp down on such influence peddling. But not surprisingly, lobbyists have found creative ways to skate around the new prohibition. The American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association, for instance, are sponsoring a party at Epic hosted by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and other Republican governors.

“If you are looking for a good time, the conventions are still a good bet—if you’re a political insider,” said Nancy Watzman, director of the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time project, in a press release. “Many of these events are invitation only, created as a way for high level politicians to rub shoulders with lobbyists and others with an interest in what happens once they are elected.”