This story was originally published by The Center for Public Integrity, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.
Politicians aren't always the most grounded bunch.
For Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., he's off in galaxy far, far away.
That's not necessarily a knock, however, since the brainy, bespectacled freshman -- he's a Princeton University graduate and University of Oxford doctoral degree recipient -- is parlaying his love for the cosmos into potentially exospheric campaign cash.
To wit: Kilmer is set to benefit from a Star Wars-themed political fundraiser later this month originally conceived as not one, but two separate Star Wars-themed fundraisers, easily putting him on pace to become the first sitting congressman to make the Capitol Hill Cash Run in less than 12 parsecs.
The merged fundraiser will culminate May 22 in a "galactic trivia battle," with tickets starting at $50 and climbing skyward to $1,000 for political action committees and full trivia teams, according to an invitation. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association's Washington, D.C., headquarters will play host.
A spokesperson for Kilmer's re-election campaign could not be reached for comment, but Stephen Carter, Kilmer's congressional spokesman, confirmed his boss is, "yes, a pretty huge Star Wars fan."
Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that Kilmer is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Novelty political fundraisers are commonplace these days, with rubber chicken dinners and stodgy grip-and-grin sessions increasingly yielding to ski trips, skeet shoots and sports events. A Taylor Swift concert, Las Vegas golf retreat and Bermuda beach bash are among federal legislators' many scheduled outings this month, according to fundraiser tracker Political Party Time.
Thank the burgeoning cost of campaigns and never-ending election cycles for congressional candidates' compulsory creativity.
In 2005, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee lambasted three Republican congressmen for conducting a political fundraiser at the screening of a Star Wars movie, saying the "GOP looks to the dark side." Given Kilmer's unabashed fandom, however, his event almost assuredly features the highest probability in congressional history of at least one lobbyist ditching his power suit for Boba Fett armor or a political aide donning a Yoda mask.
Looking for the real thing?
Kilmer should know that Han Solo -- that is, Harrison Ford -- is a dedicated Democratic donor, having contributed tens of thousands of dollars to candidates and committees over the years, including $28,500 to the Democratic National Committee in 2008, according to federal records.
But, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, it was the people and PACs associated with Boeing and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, among others, that donated the most to Kilmer en route to him rasing nearly $1.9 million last cycle.
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