Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Dozen Incoming GOP Freshmen Switch From Tea Party to a Swank Beltway Party

Here's more evidence that once you are elected to Congress and you find yourself inside the Beltway that your brain just shuts off and you just don't get it.


At least 12 Republican congressmen-elect, six of whom are Tea Party members, are banding together to throw a swank party to celebrate their inauguration and raise funds at the plush W Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. Performing at the event is country singer LeAnn Rimes, who is not a favorite among social conservatives because of her Twitter photos and other activities.

The event is sponsored by America’s New Majority, a political action committee formed by Rep.-elect Jeff Denham, R-Calif., whose goal is to raise funds.

Conservative blogger Matt Lewis reports that the cost to attend the event is "$2,500 a pop (for $50,000 you can become a "Platinum Sponsor" -- but that includes eight tickets, a "VIP lunch" and a "VIP suite" at the W hotel)."

Lewis also describes why Rimes might not be the best choice in the eyes of the socially conservative base:

But the price isn't the only thing raising eyebrows. Once thought of as "family friendly," Rimes has since added some new material to her resume. As Perez Hilton recently noted:

"LeAnn Rimes took to her Twitter to reveal some pics of herself ... as a Sexy Santa performing with the El Lay Gay Men's Christmas this past Sunday. And, of course, some with her man Eddie Cibrian!" Even before Rimes' tweet, she might have been an interesting pick for conservatives. As the New York Daily News reported in September:

"Once considered America's Sweetheart, LeAnn Rimes shocked fans when she admitted to cheating on her husband, Dean Sheremet.

. . . Rimes, now 28, admitted that she had an affair with actor Eddie Cibrian while they were shooting a Lifetime film back in 2008."

Here’s a list of all the participating members-elect, according to the Sunlight Foundation's "Party Time" site:

Jeff Denham, R-Calif.
Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. (Tea Party)
Robert Dold, R-Ill. (Tea Party)
Renee Ellmers, R-N.C. (Tea Party)
Jeff Landry, R-La. (Tea Party)
Tom Marino, R-Pa.
Tom Reed, R-N.Y.
David Rivera, R-Fla.
Jon Runyan, R-N.J.
Steve Southerland, R-Fla. (Tea Party)
Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind. (Tea Party)
Kevin Yoder. R-Kan.

POLITICO's Kenneth P. Vogel and Marin Cogan report that "House Speaker-elect John Boehner, whose name was featured on the invitation, is nonetheless skipping the event."

Their report goes on to say that at least one GOP consultant is advising his clients to stay clear of these activities:

While at least 11 incoming Republican House members had signed up for the committee by Dec. 10, other freshman were discouraged from joining, said a pair of GOP fundraising consultants.

“We strongly recommended to our clients that they not take part in this,” said one consultant, who did not want to be identified discussing advice offered to members of Congress.

“It’s causing a buzz because it’s in direct contradiction to the image that leadership is trying to portray as a conference that wants to get down to business,” said the consultant, comparing the Rimes fundraiser to one thrown by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi when Democrats assumed the House majority in 2007.

That fundraiser – organized by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and featuring $1,000 ticket prices and performances by Tony Bennett and the remnants of The Grateful Dead – got some bad press and also sparked ill will among some of the lobbyists and political action committee managers who typically comprise the target demographic for high-dollar Washington fundraisers.

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