Passing the Hat
Posted January 24, 2011 9:58 p.m. EST
Updated January 24, 2011 10:33 p.m. EST
Once the gavel drops on the new legislative session at noon Wednesday, lawmakers will be banned from soliciting or accepting political contributions from lobbyists and PACS and pretty much anyone connected to them. Not surprisingly, they’re making the most of what time they have left with a slew of high-dollar events.
The priciest event so far is the NCGOP reception Tuesday night at the Cardinal Club in downtown Raleigh. Twenty hosts can pay $5000 per couple for a private VIP reception with new NCGOP chairman Robin Hayes. If the reception sells out, that’s a cool $100K in a little over an hour. As of this afternoon, a few tickets were still available. After that, there's a public reception, with donor levels from $4000 down. You can see the invite here.
The Democrats held their own soiree last week at NCDP headquarters in Raleigh, hosted by state party chair candidate Rep. Bill Faison (D-Orange). The price list wasn’t quite as high as the GOP’s, but with top levels at $4000, you couldn't exactly call it a cheap seat. That invitation is here.
And it isn’t just parties that are passing the hat. Individual candidates are looking for donations, too. Tom Murry (R-Wake) is holding a fundraiser Tuesday night at Stonewood Grill & Tavern in Cary. It’s billed as a “celebration,” not a donor event. But the price list – $2000 for Gold Circle, $1000 for Host – makes the point pretty clear.
PACs are getting in on the action, too. Lillian’s List, a group that backs Democratic women candidates, is holding its legislative breakfast at 8am Wed., squeaking in just under the wire. Former Governor Jim Hunt will be guest speaker. Top ticket there is $4000. More on Facebook.
NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform Director Jane Pinsky says session-eve fundraisers are a Raleigh tradition. Lawmakers like to kick off the year with money in the bank, especially when they’re worried that a longer session than usual might squeeze campaign coffers in the run-up to the 2012 primaries.
But if you’re trying to curb the influence of campaign money on the General Assembly, how much difference does it make if a check rolled in January 26th versus the 27th? Probably not much, Pinsky says. “But you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.”
What other fundraisers are going on Tuesday and Wednesday? If you know of one I've missed, add it in the comments.