Big Givers Converge Outside Republican Convention
The railway giant CSX, which has spent $2 million this year lobbying on issues like greenhouse-gas regulation and hazardous-waste transportation rules, will park special train cars near the Tampa Bay Times Forum to host parties and meetings.
Reflecting the new power and prominence of “super PACs” and other groups in the Republican world, Americans for Prosperity, a tax-exempt organization that is spending millions of dollars against President Obama, will hold a reception, “A Salute to Entrepreneurs Building America.” The honorees are David H. Koch, the group’s billionaire co-founder, and Art Pope, a North Carolina businessman and generous donor to conservative causes.
The billionaire investor Paul Singer, who has given at least $1 million to the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, has booked Karl Rove and Condoleezza Rice for invitation-only briefings, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin for a private dinner, and himself for a breakfast seminar titled “A Pro-Growth Agenda for a Romney Administration.”
When thousands of delegates, elected officials and party leaders begin arriving in Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention, hundreds of lobbyists, corporate executives, trade associations and donors will be waiting for them, exploiting legal loopholes — and the fun-house atmosphere — that make each party’s quadrennial conventions a gathering of money and influence unrivaled in politics.
In many ways, their activities amount to a parallel convention, one in which access to elected officials, party leaders and delegates provides corporations, interest groups and lobbyists a chance to advance their causes as the party goes about its official business nearby.
Lobbyists and trade groups, virtually all with business before Congress and federal agencies, are paying for a nonstop schedule of beach parties, concerts and cocktail hours.