"It gives a lobbyist an opportunity to be displayed in a setting of political importance for the members of Congress, and for the others who will be, perhaps, in the administration," Abramoff told ABC News. "And I think the more the lobbyists are seen in the context of important events and hobnobbing with people who are important, the more their stock goes up."
While many of the events were closed to the media, Podesta was one of the few members of his trade who didn't feel the need to hide his efforts in Charlotte. ABC News spotted five U.S. senators at one of his daytime events, among them Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy.
Podesta said he was happy not to be hit up for money to support the convention host committee. "It enables us to be able to do wonderful parties like this instead of spending money on fencing and security so we thank the President for his direction of our activities more to events like this," he said.
Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia said he did not feel compelled to defend his decision to attend Podesta's event.
"It's still a free country and people can network with people of their choosing," he said.