There has long been a perception that Washington, DC is dominated by lobbyists for special interests making big-dollar donations to rub elbows and sip expensive drinks with politicians in smoke-filled rooms. The conservative One Nation political action committee is doing its best to keep that image alive and well.
This Thursday, the PAC will host its second annual Scotch & Cigars fundraiser, according to an invitation posted by the Sunlight Foundation. A $1,000 PAC or individual contribution buys a spot on the event’s host committee. Just a $50 check “entitles you to a cigar and open selection of whiskey and wine, as well as good company with fellow conservative guests” in executive suite #3320 of Washington’s Marriott Wardman Park. To encourage healthy behavior by young people, the event has a $20 discounted rate for anyone under age 30.
Attendees will have to dress the part; the required dress code for the event is “lounge suit for men, cocktail dress for women.”
The “good company” includes several powerful political players: anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, twice-defeated former Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R-MD), and current U.S. Reps. Dan Benishek (R-MI), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), and Bob Latta (R-OH). Despite the health dangers of tobacco and hard liquor, the event has the apparent seal of approval from Buerkle (a nurse) and Benishek (a medical doctor and surgeon).
There is just one hitch: the hotel is 100 percent smoke-free so the cigars will have to be taken out to the balcony (the current weather forecast for Thursday predicts an overnight low of 28 degrees) or remain unlit.
Donors might want to note, however, that in the 2010 campaign, the One Nation PAC spent more of its funds on fundraising consultants ($32,837) than on actual contributions to candidates ($20,299), according to the Center for Responsive Politics.