Republicans Raise Cash on Fishing Boat, Shooting Range

Republicans Sharpen Focus on Economy Ahead of Convention
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks on stage ahead of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Sunday. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When Texas Representative Mike Conaway goes fishing during the Republican National Convention this week, he’s also looking to reel in piles of cash for his leadership political action committee.

AT&T Inc. is reaching out and touching lawmakers, hosting receptions for the Alabama and Mississippi delegations. And the National Rifle Association is teaming up with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus for the Stars and Stripes shoot.

For lawmakers, companies, interest groups and lobbyists, the quadrennial gathering in Tampa isn’t about simply nominating a candidate for president, Bloomberg reports in its Political Capital blog. It’s about raising money and schmoozing.

“You get to have all the power players grouped together in one convenient location,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations. “It’s the perfect opportunity to throw fancy parties and create a festive atmosphere. It’s a golden opportunity to buttonhole a legislator.”

Conaway is chartering a fishing boat for donors Tuesday, seeking to raise money for his Conservative Opportunities for New America PAC, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington watchdog group. Conaway’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Party Committees

The political party committees, too, take advantage of the conventions, hosting events to let members of Congress and candidates meet contributors and prospective donors. A National Republican Senatorial Committee breakfast Tuesday features the committee chairman, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

AT&T has been a fixture at conventions of both parties. The company is providing wireless service in Tampa and is helping to fete delegations from Alabama and Mississippi, represented by Senator Roger Wicker, a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee and a member of its communications subcommittee.

AT&T spokeswoman Claudia Jones didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment after normal business hours.

Lobbying firms are staging their own events. Williams & Jensen, which was paid $9.1 million during the first half of the year to lobby on behalf of clients like Visa Inc., Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP and General Electric Co., is hosting a reception for the Ohio delegation, whose members include House Speaker John Boehner.