Party Time for Politicians at the Super Bowl

Feb 2, 2007 12:57pm

There may be talk of ethics reform in Washington, but that won’t stop some politicians and lobbyists from partying together this weekend in Miami at the Super Bowl. Florida Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek is holding a pricey weekend fundraiser that includes tickets to the championship game for anyone willing to pony up $5,000.  While other groups and politicians have held similar events in the past, Meek is the only one identified as doing so this year. When we called Meek’s office, his staff would not confirm the lawmaker was giving away Super Bowl tickets to funders. "I don’t know what’s going on down in Miami," press aide Adam Sharon told us. "This is a legislative office, and we have no connection to his fundraising." Meek’s Miami office referred inquiries on the matter to Sharon. Congressman Tom Feeney, a Florida Republican, has invited lobbyists to spend $5,000 to attend his pre-game party Saturday night. But entry at Feeney’s event won’t include tickets to the big game, according to Mike Bober, the executive director of the House Conservatives Fund, the political action committee organizing the event. See the invitation to Rep. Feeney’s pre-game bash. "[W]e’ve found that it’s simply too difficult to find Super Bowl tickets that would work within the confines of what’s appropriate," Bober told "Roll Call" recently. According to lawyer and political ethics expert Stanley Brand, giving lobbyists Super Bowl tickets for campaign donations is not against the law — nor would it run afoul of pending changes in the ethics rules. "We are where we have been," Brand told ABC News. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. The biggest political groups for House Republicans and Democrats have sold off Super Bowl tickets in the past, but they’re also staying home this year. The National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told ABC News they aren’t buying tickets to the championship game or holding fundraisers associated with it. The Super Bowl has caused ethical problems for elected officials in the past. Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and former Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., have found themselves facing down federal investigators over a 2001 Super Bowl jaunt enjoyed by staffers for the two men. The Republican aides flew on a plane chartered by — surprise — Abramoff to attend the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla. After seeing the Baltimore Ravens cream the New York Giants, the group went gambling, using hundreds of dollars in poker chips provided by Abramoff himself. Abramoff’s team invited former Republican Congressman Bob Ney to join the trip, but in an unusual display of ethical wisdom, Ney turned them down.  His instincts didn’t hold out, of course: he later took several trips on Abramoff’s dime, ate free meals at his restaurant — and pled guilty to corruption charges. He’s facing 30 months in jail.

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