The bright side for the organizers, who have a long track record of organizing these parties: they’re unlikely to have much trouble finding an act to take Kool & the Gang’s place.
Kid Rock, Journey, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Commodores have played Republican convention-associated events in past years. Democrats have rocked out to Kanye West, the Black Eyed Peas and Death Cab for Cutie.
But clearly, it’s time to get down on it.
That’s because regardless of which presidential candidates win their parties’ nominations, partisan operatives view national conventions as prime power networking opportunities. Lavish corporate-and-lobbyist-sponsored events that happen alongside the conventions are classic venues for politicos and political influencers to connect.
Congress passed sweeping ethics reform legislation in 2007 that in part attempted to curb the convention-related mingling between lawmakers and the corporations and lobbyists that advocate before them.
Still, there are multiple loopholes that have allowed the parties to continue. Because of them, convention attendees, especially members of Congress, continue to have their pick of fancy functions carefully tailored to comply with the law.
For example, some rules apply specifically to events held during the dates of the convention. The July 17 affair comes one day before the kickoff of the Republican National Convention.
“Simply by staging this party prior to the official date of the convention, those who can afford the price of admission will no doubt be duly recognized and given one-on-one face time with the senators and party officials,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen, after seeing a flier advertising sponsorship packages for the July 17 party.
In an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, Eudy said the point of the date outside of the convention period wasn’t evading ethics rules that apply specifically to events held within the dates of the convention. Rather, it was because there’s less competition from other parties for venues and attendees, she said.
Nonetheless, “The party conventions are the most troubling big money bonanzas on the election calendar, rife with opportunities for special interests to buy face time with our nation’s elected leaders and their staff,” said Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.
The lowest-tier sponsorship option for the party — the $25,000 “Huron” package — includes 10 tickets to a VIP area, 10 general admission tickets and corporate name and logo placement on invitations, credentials and event signage.
Then there’s the $100,000 “superior” package for the main event underwriter, which includes more tickets, a roped-off area within the VIP section, prominent corporate logo placement and a backstage photo op with the band for up to six couples.
Other past clients and event sponsors for events put together by Eudy’s team include trade association America’s Health Insurance Plans, Google, ExxonMobil and a long list of other well-known companies and trade associations.