“I was a Sigma Nu,” said former Republican Senator Trent Lott. “There will be a lot of Sigma Nus here tonight.”
It wasn’t really a fraternity reunion, unless you think G.O.P. is Greek.
The Bipartisan Policy Center’s “A Century of Service” gala last night gathered many of the Republican brotherhood in the palatial Andrew Mellon auditorium to honor former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Howard Baker and to celebrate the center's fifth anniversary.
Lott and another ex-majority leader, Bill Frist, were on hand with Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki. Former Senator Mel Martinez, now a vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), said Dole reminded him of a time “when we all got along.”
Federal Express Corp. (FDX) executives Gina Adams and Sandy Dickey credited Baker, the former Tennessee senator, with helping their Memphis-based company get off the ground when he was in office.
Other Tennessee folk in the crowd included the state’s senior senator, Lamar Alexander, and Representative Marsha Blackburn.
The Bipartisan Policy Center was started in 2007 by Baker, Dole, and former Democratic Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and George Mitchell. Daschle, Vice President Joe Biden, and current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered tributes.
Guests nibbled small grilled-cheese sandwiches and deviled eggs on tables anchored with tall vases of calla lilies.
Linda Hall Daschle was elsewhere. Wearing pearls and bearing a Chanel handbag, the former senator’s wife held court in the Ritz-Carlton lobby for the N Street Village Gala, an annual fundraiser benefitting the city’s largest women’s homeless shelter.
She chatted with Senator Roy Blunt, the Missouri Republican, whose wife, Abigail, was recruited into Linda Daschle’s “charity mafia” to be on the board of the organization.
Blunt joked that he follows “the pretty girls” because he knows it’s going to be a good night.
One of the evening’s honorees, Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, got a bear hug from her former Senate colleague Byron Dorgan before guests dug into a dinner of beef, mashed potatoes and Oreo cheesecake.
Frederick Humphries, the vice president of U.S. government affairs for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), caught up with Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine.
The other honorees were Senator Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and his wife, Diana, another Linda Daschle recruit, who said she appreciated the “sisterhood” that the charity generates.
The evening raised more than $600,000, with Microsoft donating $35,000, Humphries said, and Scripps Networks Interactive giving $25,000, according to A.B. Cruz III, the chief legal officer of Scripps and a co-chairman of the gala.
Melissa Maxfield, the senior vice president for congressional and federal government affairs for Comcast, was the other gala co-chair, whose sister, Melinda Maxfield, a principal at Williams and Jensen, walked away with the biggest raffle prize of the night: a trip to Argentina.
The other guests got house-shaped cookies with a thank-you note from the women whom N Street Village has sheltered.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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