In recent years, national political conventions have been rife with parties feting powerful lawmakers, courtesy of lobbyists, corporations and other interest groups. Last fall’s ethics reform bill was supposed to put the kibosh on much of the hoopla.
But the parties roll on, as do other perks for big donors, The New York Times and others have reported. The Sunlight Foundation offers a searchable list of more than 400 events this week in Denver and next week in St. Paul and vicinity.
Over the course of this week and next, we’ll be following the festivities for you. But to get a sense of scope for now, consider just one company: telecom giant AT&T.
By one count, AT&T is sponsoring or co-sponsoring more than a dozen parties. Among them, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s list: Sunday night’s Blue Night in Denver, thrown for the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats at Mile High Station. Monday, it toasts delegations from Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maryland in two afternoon luncheons, and then parties with moderate Democrats from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. — at roughly the same time it throws a reception for California delegates at the Pinnacle Club on the 38th floor of the Grand Hyatt Denver. (Indeed, the Denver Post’s calendar listing for the Pinnacle Club suggests AT&T has moved in for the week.)
Highlights for the rest of the convention: Batting practice at Coors Field, another Pinnacle Club event saluting African-American voters, a Kanye West concert Wednesday night and a “VIP” jazz brunch Thursday morning. Then it’s off to Minneapolis-St. Paul.
AT&T declined to confirm details or give specifics about about its activities in Denver. A spokeswoman noted that AT&T has taken part in conventions for years. “It’s our view that every four years people around the globe are watching the U.S. and how we pick a leader,” she said in a three-sentence written statement. “AT&T’s role as a good corporate citizen is to showcase the elective process in the best light possible.”