California Money

Al Kamen
By Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz August 6 at 7:21 PM

If you’re forced to spend a weekend hobnobbing with donors, do it up right. And don’t host the event in your district (where the local economy could surely use the boost). Go somewhere fabulous.

Hats off to Republican Reps. John Shimkus (Ill.) and Ed Whitfield (Ky.), who are beginning their five-week August vacation “district work period” panning for gold in sunny California for multi-day fundraising retreats, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time database.
Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Shimkus, who certainly knows how to party (last summer he had a fundraiser at the New Kids on the Block, Boys II Men and 98 Degrees concert in D.C.!), is at the Solage Calistoga resort in Napa Valley. The invitation, as obtained by Sunlight, boasts of five to six wine tours on a private bus over two days.

The Shimkus campaign suggests an individual donation of $1,500 to the JOHN S Fund or $3,000 from a PAC. Shimkus’s PAC has already spent $14,031 at the Solage, according to OpenSecrets. The congressman went out to Cali a little early, tweeting a picture from the Twitter headquarters (meta), which is in San Francisco, on Monday. But he has not forgotten the good people of Illinois’s 15th Congressional District — Shimkus returns home Saturday for Champaign County Farm Day.

Whitfield will be down in L.A. starting Friday playing host at the luxury Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, where Hollywood starlets and celebrity icons — including Elizabeth Taylor and the Beatles — were once patrons.

The suggested contribution to the Thoroughbred PAC, Whitfield’s leadership committee, is also $1,500 a person and $3,000 from a PAC. This campaign cycle, the PAC has spent $35,000 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, according to OpenSecrets. There will be a welcome reception in the Polo Lounge (great dirty martinis), and the campaign has reserved a poolside cabana for Saturday.

Whitfield and his friends will probably have an easier time than usual getting a seat at the bar, as most of Hollywood is boycotting the hotel because it is part of a chain owned by the sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah , who has implemented harsh Islamic sharia law in his state, punishing such “crimes” as homosexuality and adultery.

Flacks for both lawmakers did not respond to our e-mails seeking comment. Neither faces a tough reelection race, but you still want to go where the money is.

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