Political Party Time

Sushi with Freddie Mac lobbyists, anyone?

If you haven't been under a rock lately, you know that the Bush Administration is proposing a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street. What you might not know is that there have been 258 parties this year alone for members of the House Financial Services Committee-the very folks who are making crucial decisions about this legislation-a number of them hosted by lobbyists for the finance, insurance, and real estate industries. (We later updated this list to include 357 parties planned for the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committee members.)

For example, last week, on September 16, lobbyists were invited to a "financial services" luncheon for Rep. Dean Heller at the Capitol Hill Club. The cost for entry was $500 for individuals, $1,000 for PACs. Heller has collected $190,252 from the financial sector for his congressional elections out of a total of $1,242,583, or 15.3 percent.

Then there was the invitation from the Real Estate Roundtable PAC on September 14 for folks to join Rep. Gregory Meeks to watch the New Orleans Saints play the Washington Redskins play at FedEx Field. The cost: $1,000. Meeks has taken $1,015,432 from the financial sector over his congressional career, 27.8 percent of his fundraising total-$3,657,984.

Back in late July, a list of lobbyists invited others to a beer tasting for Rep. Tom Feeney. These included Maura Solomon, a lobbyist for Citigroup Management Corp. The cost was $250 for a host, $100 to attend, and $1,000 for a PAC. Feeney has taken $1,260,480 from the financial sector in his elections for Congress, 22.1 percent of his total of $5,705,257.

Also in July, lobbyists Greg Mesack and Doyle Barlett threw a sushi reception for Rep. Kenny Marchant. The lobbyists' firm, the Eris Group, represents a number of banks, as well as Freddie Mac, Morgan Stanley and the Mortgage Bankers Association. Attendees were asked to pay $2,000 for a host, $1,000 for a PAC, and $500 per individual. Marchant has taken $449,813 from the finance, insurance, and real estate industries for his congressional elections, 23.4 percent of his fundraising total of $1,921,414, or 23.4 percent.

And also July there was a "summer happy hour" for Rep. Michael Capuano on July 24. The party was hosted by REIT (National Association of Real Estate InvestmentTrusts) PAC and InsurPAC, the PAC for the Independent Insurance Agents of America. Lobbyist hosts included Langston Emerson, who lobbies for the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts; Tom Koonce, a lobbyist for the Independent Insurance Agents of America. The suggested contribution was $1,000. Capuano has collected $813,176 from the financial sector over the course of his congressional career, or 18.5 percent of his total fundraising of $4,402,712, or 18.5 percent.

These are only the parties we know about-the ones we've managed to collect from sources. There likely were more. Plus, not all the parties have details on the invitations about who is hosting them, so it's not easy to make the connections with financial lobbyists. That said, there are also likely other examples in our database. You are welcome to do some digging yourself-just please tell us what you find!