There's no better way to start the day in Washington than by shoveling over some cash to a politician -- which is why there were no fewer than seven fundraising breakfasts scheduled for Thursday morning.
As part of its ongoing mission to cover run-of-the mill lobbying as it happens in real time, the Huffington Post tried to crash one of them -- held at a townhouse owned by a major health-care lobbying firm to benefit freshman Rep. Steve Driehaus, an Ohio Democrat fortunate enough to have scored a seat on the House Financial Services Committee.
But we were turned away. Yet again.
The invitation, posted on the Sunlight Foundation's website, politicalpartytime.org, asked for a $5,000 campaign contribution to "chair" the event, $2,500 to "host," $1,000 from political action committees and $500 from individual guests. The venue, a modest townhouse near the Capitol, is owned by Strategic Health Care, according to the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. The Center for Responsive Politics identifies Strategic Health Care as a "heavy hitter" that lobbies on behalf of all manner of health industry clients and has a lobbying income of over $2 million so far for 2009.
Driehaus has benefited in his home state from unsolicited advertisements paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. Driehaus faces a challenge from the Republican he ousted from the seat in November.
At the door, a staffer for the Driehaus reelection campaign politely said the event was closed to press. He also declined to provide details about the guest list.
But the Huffington Post had better luck than at least one guest, who was walking down the stairs when this reporter arrived. Asked if he was there for the Driehaus event, he said, "I guess not."
You couldn't get in? The fundraiser's not happening?
The man, who apparently had not bothered to ring the doorbell, declined to identify himself and started walking away. When the Huffington Post rang the doorbell, the Driehaus campaign staffer immediately opened the door. The staffer laughed when told about the man who thought the event was off. Asked if he wanted this reporter to chase the guy down, the staffer declined.