Senators are urged to support Feingold amendment to close gifts loophole

January 17, 2007



Dear Senator,

Our organizations strongly urge you to vote for the Feingold amendment to close a gaping loophole in the gift rules that allows lobbyists and lobbying organizations to spend large amounts of money to pay for parties at the national conventions to "honor" a Member or members of Congress.

Under this loophole, if a ban on gifts from lobbyists and lobbying organizations is adopted in the Senate, a lobbyist or lobbying organization would then be prohibited from spending $25 to pay for a Senator's lunch, but the same lobbyist or lobbying organization would be able to pay $25,000 or $50,000 for a party at the national conventions to "honor" the same Senator.

The worst abuses of this indefensible loophole occur at the national presidential nominating conventions, where parties for Senators and Representatives are financed by lobbyists and lobbying organizations. Often these parties involve substantial sums of money paid by lobbyists and lobbying organizations for lavish parties to "honor" a Senator or Representative who chairs a key committee or subcommittee with jurisdiction over the legislative interests of the lobbyists and lobbying organizations footing the bills for the parties.

According to a USA Today article (August 30, 2004) on parties at the national nominating conventions:

The entry fee for participation has gone up dramatically," says David Rehr, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, who is contributing either beer or money to help sponsor nine parties this week. To get top billing as a sponsor for an elaborate event can cost $100,000 or more; lower-level sponsorships are available for $50,000 or $25,000.

There is no way to justify having strict limits on gifts from lobbyists and lobbying organizations to Senators and at the same time allowing these same lobbyists and lobbying organizations to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a party at the national conventions to "honor" a Senator, that is, in essence, the Senator's party.

We urge you to vote for the Feingold amendment to close a huge loophole in the gift rules and to prevent lobbyists and lobbying organizations from paying for parties at the national conventions to "honor" a Member or members of Congress.

Campaign Legal Center

League of Women Voters

Common Cause

Public Citizen

Democracy 21

U.S. PIRG


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