Breakfast with Nancy: One Hour. Five Grand.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is inviting medical high rollers to join her at the swanky new W Hotel in downtown Washington. The price of this one-hour soiree? As much as $5000.
Hoping to capitalize on the passage of the health care bill -- and the massive government expenditures it dictates, estimated to be at least $1 trillion -- Speaker Pelosi's staff is inviting (pdf) "the health care community" to join her in the Studio Room of the W Hotel in what Carmela Clendening (also listed on the invitation) said is an annual rite.
She told Pajamas Media that this specific breakfast was small and exclusive:
It is 20 to 25 people that attend. It is focused on that industry.
She did not say how many other breakfasts she was organizing.
The Pelosi health care breakfast is not illegal. As the invitation makes clear, the amounts of the donations are carefully limited to what federal election law permits: $2,400 for the primary election and $2,400 more for the general election. But it is a close-up look at the way political figures use their influence to privately “shake down” various lobbyists and industries. The invitation is particularly interesting in light of Pelosi’s own complaint, before she became speaker, that Washington suffered from a “culture of corruption” from lobbyists.
Just this week, the Center for Public Integrity reported that since 1987 Pelosi has raised more than $20 million in campaign contributions from individual and corporate PACs. This figure is extraordinary, since she has run largely unopposed in elections for her seat in liberal San Francisco. (The Center reports her biggest financial contributor was the top defense lawyer for Enron.)