K Street Files: Union Dues

Posted August 22, 2008 at 4:52pm

The corporate-sponsored fetes with big-name celebrities may get all the buzz at the party conventions, but when it comes to the Democrats this week, it’s the unions that seem to have it made.

[IMGCAP(1)]Not only are the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union planning rallies, news conferences and receptions, their leaders have been slated for prime time to address the delegates from the same podium that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and other party VIPs will use. The AFL-CIO’s president, John Sweeney, will speak on Tuesday, while SEIU Secretary Treasurer Anna Burger is scheduled for Wednesday.

“I don’t think that much is accomplished by hosting parties in terms of the legislative agenda, so we’re not trying to compete on that basis,” said the AFL-CIO’s legislative director, Bill Samuel. “Frankly, I’m pretty confident about the level of support working families get from the Democratic Party. Businesses may be less secure and may be looking for ways to get attention.”

The AFL-CIO has an economic panel planned for Tuesday morning with such participants as Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.).

SEIU’s Michelle Ringuette said her union’s events are geared at pressing health care reforms and will take place at both convention cities, even though the group has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for president.

“We have a bigger role in Denver,” Ringuette said, noting that the group is hosting events in Minneapolis-St. Paul next week during the GOP convention. “A lot of our events are about calling attention to what we think needs to be the priorities in the Obama administration. All of our events are really substantive.”

In-Flight Reading. House Republicans will be taking a reprieve from talking on the House floor about their demand for a vote on offshore drilling, but don’t expect the issue to die down during the conventions.

The Air Transport Association is continuing its call for action, along with its Stop Oil Speculation Now coalition made up mostly of airlines, cargo carriers and other associations of fuel dealers and airport executives, as well as unionized employees. The group will be taking its message directly to the masses.

As convention-goers take to the air to get to Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul, several of the airline CEOs are championing their cause by writing columns about the need for Congress to pass a comprehensive energy plan in the airlines’ in-flight magazines. Northwest Airlines CEO Doug Steenland, for example, writes about the “local” issue affecting the airline industry calling for legislation to “close loopholes that allow rampant, unregulated oil speculation and to support giving the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) greater regulatory and enforcement authority.”

The group doesn’t have events planned on the ground for either convention, but David Castelveter, ATA’s spokesman, said that in addition to the CEO columns and getting the message out at airports through employees, it is also in the midst of planning ad buys in local papers and radio shows in Colorado and Minnesota.

Cheers — Convention Style. Some might say that convention-goers of both parties like to drink the Kool-Aid — a reference to cult-like loyalty. But one company, Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc., is looking to spice up the beverage repertoire of delegates and K Streeters alike.

The company, getting into the spirit of the political conventions, has tapped bartenders in the Denver and Twin Cities areas to concoct special cocktails to sip while toasting your favorite candidate.

A bartender in Minneapolis has invented the Grand Ole Party: 2 parts Canadian Club whisky, 1 part DeKuyper creme de menthe and 1 part DeKuyper Blustery Peppermint Burst Schnapps.

Or how about the Running Mate, courtesy of James Lee, a bartender at the West End Tavern in Boulder, Colo. That one is 2 parts Maker’s Mark bourbon, 1 part simple syrup; 2 wedges of lemon and 1 slice of watermelon. (Directions: Muddle lemon and watermelon with simple syrup. Add Maker’s Mark and ice. Shake and strain into a large old-fashioned glass with fresh crushed ice. Garnish with a slice of watermelon and lemon wheel.)

In honor of all the delegates, bartenders came up with the Delegate: 2 parts Hornitos Reposado tequila; 1 heaping spoon of agave nectar; 1 part fresh lime juice; and 2 ounces cucumber foam.

Bleary eyed for those 7 a.m. breakfasts? Beam’s lobbyists, we’re certain, would recommend a little hair of the dog.

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