Sunlight Foundation's Political Party Time: Lobbyists Hosting Romney Fundraisers

Throughout the presidential campaign season, Mitt Romney has portrayed himself as a Washington outsider. In contrast to his leading Republican rivals — Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul — Romney has never had a political career in the nation’s capital. Still, when it comes to fundraising, Romney does not appear lacking in inside the Beltway connections. Party Time has turned up more than 30 top-notch lobbyists, former members of Congress and former heads of financial firms hosting his fundraisers, one of which is being held Thursday evening in Washington.

Reports are that Romney hopes to pull in $1 million during the course of a few hours schmoozing at the J.W. Marriott Hotel downtown. Among the big names headlining a policy discussion at the event: Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Mike Leavitt, who served as Utah governor before joining former President George W. Bush’s cabinet as health and human services secretary. One of the co-chairs is Bobbie Kilberg, president of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and a veteran of the Nixon, Ford and both Bush administrations.

This comes one day after five former lobbyists hosted Romney’s fundraiser in Atlanta. All have ties to previous Republican administrations and to Romney when he was serving as governor of Massachusetts. One of the hosts, Cynthia Gillespie is a former lobbyist with McKenna, Long and Aldridge and now their Managing Director. Gillespie served as key advisor Romney when he was governor. She played a lead role in creating Romney’s famed health care policy in Massachusetts. Another host, Eric Tanenblatt, also with McKenna, Long and Aldridge was nominated by George W. Bush to serve on the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Services.Oscar Persons, counsel at Burr and Forman, is on the finance committee of the Georgia Romney for President Campaign. David Fox of Bracy, Tucker and Brown served as the press secretary to two republican members of Congress and Bo Moore of McKenna, Long and Aldridge worked for the late Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., and served as the key strategist for the key strategist for Senator Phil Gramm’s Presidential campaign.

Romney will be going back to New York City in March for a a fundraiser featuring some of bigwigs of the Republican Party as well as power players from Washington. Named one of First Street’s 30 Professional Lobbyists, Wayne Berman is listed as one of the hosts for this event. Berman has been a top GOP strategist and fundraiser for decades. He was part of the Reagan White House Transition team, served as the assistant secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush and assisted John McCain when he was running for President. Berman, also was a host at an evening reception for a Romney fundraiser at the Offices of Phillip Rosen, Weil, Gotshal and Mangess, LLP in New York City.

Another host for the event is Maria Cino. Cino has a long history of being an influential Washingtonian. She has served as the President and CEO of the 2008 Republican National Convention, Deputy Secretary of the Department Transportation, Deputy Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Assistant Secretary & Director General of the US & Foreign Commercial Service of the Department of Commerce.

New York is one of the top states for political money making and Party Time records include two other events for Romney in the Big Apple. The hosts for the breakfast reception in December last year include Drew Maloney, listed as The Hill’s “Top Lobbyists in Washington” and served as the Legislator Director to Ed Bryant, R-Tenn., where his duties Judiciary and Commerce Committees. While serving as Bryant’s counsel on judiciary matters, Maloney not only help conduct the interview of Monica Lewinsky, but also manage the impeachment proceedings.

Another host for the breakfast reception is former representative Rick Lazio, R-N.Y. Lazio is more known for his unsuccessful bid for a New York Senate seat against Hilary Clinton. Between 2004-2007, he was a lobbyist for Financial Services Centers for America, Financial Services Form and JP Morgan Chase and Company. His latest venture is called Ignite, an online publication for politics.

Former Chairman of Goldman Sachs, John Whitehead was also a host at the reception. According to Influence Explorer, Goldman Sachs is one of the top contributors to the Romney campaign.

Fred Zeidman, a Romney fundraiser from Texas and Stephanie Siegel, Co-Chair, of Romney’s Florida Campaign Finance Team is also listed as hosts for the event.

This evening’s fundraising isn’t the first time Romney has shaken the DC money tree. Prior to the first votes were cast in Iowa and New Hampshire, hosted a reception in Washington, DC. Hosts included Joe Wall, a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, Jeff Choudry, Vice President at The Nickles Group, LLC, and former staffer for Rep. Trent Franks, Renee Courtland, former lobbyist for Dutko Worldwide and senior political aide and policy analyst in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Hanz Heinrichs, director of government affairs at Alcoa, and, according to The Hill, one of Washington’s Most Beautiful People.

Former Senator Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., founder of the Chain Bridge Bank is listed as a host for a luncheon for Romney in Chicago last year. According to a report by Roll Call several presidential campaigns such as Gov. Rick Perry and Romney and several prominent PACs for Republicans and Democrats have accounts there.

Last July, Party Time reported that the “Lawyers for Romney Luncheon” was hosted by several GOP big wigs at one of the top lobbying firms in DC, Patton Boggs. One of the members of the host committee was former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Lott formed the lobbying firm Breaux Lott Leadership Group in 2008, which was acquired by Patton Boggs. Other members of the host committee include Andrew Siff, former chief of staff to the Secretary of Labor under the George W. Administration, Gus Coldebella former general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security and Elliot Berke, who served as counsel to the former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Texas.

Ben Ginsberg, Romney’s senior advisor is also listed as a host. Ginsberg was the adviser for the 2000 Florida recount strategy for the Bush-Cheney campaign and is a top GOP election lawyer.

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