As the House Committee on Ways and Means wrangled over health care reform legislation on Thursday, one of the panel's members, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) missed his own ice cream party at the National Democratic Club's townhouse near the Capitol. Colorful balloons marked the spot.
The invitation for the event, titled "Cool Down and Chill Out with Congressman Xavier Becerra," was posted on the Sunlight Foundation's website, www.politicalpartytime.org. Price of admission: a $500 campaign contribution from individual guests or $1,000 from guests representing political action committees.
The Huffington Post visited the event as part of its effort to cover totally normal, plain-vanilla lobbying around the Hill. Of the nine fundraisers known to be happening Thursday, this was the only one that held the possibility of vanilla ice cream. It was a really hot day.
This reporter was politely denied access to the event. Arriving guests, including a lobbyist for the Independent Community Bankers Association, and another from the United Auto Workers, refused to bring any ice cream outside.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the top donors to Becerra's 2010 campaign committee are in the health care and insurance industries. Becerra is a member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.
Michael Fraioli, of Fraioli & Associates, a consulting firm that organizes Democratic fundraisers, disapproved of the Huffington Post's attempt to report on this event. (Fraioli's firm helped set up a fundraiser happening at the same time but at a difference place for Rep. Zachary Space of Ohio.)
Fraioli accused this reporter of not identifying himself when trying to meet and greet arrivals, which this reporter steadfastly denies. Perhaps in an attempt to help this reporter do his job better, Fraioli grabbed the reporter's notepad, but he did not succeed in taking it away.
Around 7 p.m., a Becerra staffer untied the balloons from the porch railing. The congressman, who stayed in the Capitol to help his committee approve the health care bill, had missed out on the ice cream.