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Beyoncé concert irreplaceable as political fundraiser

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey to angle for re-election cash at upcoming show

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"Bey and Jay." Whatever.

Come July 29, it'll be "Beyoncé (and Bob)" at Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center, as Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., is planning to rock out at a political fundraiser that pairs his name with the music megastar, according to an invitation obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

For a yet-to-by-publicized (although almost certainly sizable) contribution, donors will be treated to seats in a suite over which the two-term senator will preside.

View the invitation here, along with come-ons for decidedly more traditional Casey fundraisers next week at Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse on Capitol Hill and in May at a Philapelphia Phillies baseball game. No matter that Casey doesn't face re-election again until 2018.

Amy Pfaehler, Casey's campaign finance director, said she's not authorized to comment on the events and directed questions to Casey's Senate office, a representative for which did not respond to requests for comment.

As for Beyoncé, well, Jay-Z's better half will be half an arena away on stage during Casey's fundraiser, so don't expect your contribution to include much face time with the 17-time Grammy Award winner who as of late has evermore increased her profile in the political and governmental realm.

But while it's hardly unheard of for politicians to use unwitting pop stars in bids to fill their campaign coffers, Beyoncé has recently become decidedly political on her own terms.

In September, she co-hosted a tony New York City fundraiser for President Barack Obama. After Election Day, she employed pen and paper to swipe at Mitt Romney. And then, of course, she sang — or didn't — the national anthem at Obama's inauguration.

So how steeped in politics is Beyoncé?

Political enough that Rutgers University Department of Women's and Gender Studies lecturer Kevin Allred last year taught a course titled — yes, indeed — "Politicizing Beyoncé."

"Beyoncé has become a more explicitly political figure recently," Allred told the Center. "In the past, I think she was hesitant to enter that arena, but since Obama has been elected, I think she has continued to embrace more political messages and images in her career and persona... She is a more political figure in that explicit way now than 5 or 10 years ago."

Even without actively trying to be political, Beyoncé is a political figure "just by being a black woman living in America, and especially being a prominent black women in all forms of media," Allred argued. "The ways black women must negotiate celebrity, and everyday life especially are already fully political because we still live in an unequal society — one where inequality is structural and no one person, i.e. Beyoncé, can overcome that by herself."

Casey's event may not be quite as existential.

"The fundraiser at her concert," he added, "is more a politician trying to harness some of her popularity for himself rather than Beyoncé trying to enter a political realm."