K Street Files: Going Fishin’

Posted August 27, 2008 at 7:09pm

The décor looked like something straight out of the redneck wing of the Republican Party. Instead, the camouflage posters and videos of snapping trout and big game being stalked by hunters was right smack in the middle of the Democratic National Convention.

The National Wildlife Federation Action Fund had a point to all this: Gun-loving hunters and conservative anglers don’t necessarily support the GOP agenda lock, stock and barrel. And when it comes to energy policy and global warming, that constituency is up for grabs in November.

[IMGCAP(1)]The event’s title states, “I Fish, I Hunt, I Vote Conservation.”

“You better look at what the candidates really stand for,” said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), a sportsman and wildlife enthusiast who denounced Republican attacks on such laws as the Clean Water Act.

Tony Dean of the sports show “Tony Dean Outdoors” admitted that his presence at the convention in Denver might seem a little odd. “I’m a lifelong Teddy Roosevelt Republican, and I’m still a Republican,” he said.

But, he added, the past eight years during the Bush administration and its conservation policies have hurt the environment that hunters and fishermen cherish. “I have seen so many significant changes in water fowl,” he said.

The popular view of anglers and sportsmen is one of “a bunch of beer swilling nuts on guns,” Dean said.

But his decision in November will be based on which candidate has a solution to global warming.

At the event, held in downtown’s Curtis Hotel, the wildlife federation released a recent poll showing that 80 percent of U.S. hunters and anglers want the government to set out a new energy policy that relies on clean, renewable sources.

The same poll showed that while hunters and sportsmen want to protect gun rights, they are equally engaged in the issues of conservation, land use and energy policy.

“Sportsmen have been stereotyped as caring about one issue: guns,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

Poker Players Ante Up. The Poker Players Alliance raised its visibility Tuesday night, drawing several lawmakers and Hollywood celebrities to a charity poker tournament at the club level of Coors Field.

Raising money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, actor Ben Affleck got chummy with pro-online gaming Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), while comedian Sarah Silverman sat at a nearby table.

It wasn’t all fun and games though. Despite the festive atmosphere, the alliance executive director John Pappas was already looking toward Minneapolis-St. Paul and the Republican National Convention.

The reason: The group lobbied hard to make sure the 2008 GOP party platform made no mention of online gambling regulation.

The alliance organized about 200 letters to be sent to Republicans on the issue and thought that victory was in hand.

Indeed, when the party platform came out Tuesday morning, there wasn’t a single mention of online gaming, according to Pappas.

But later that day, a line about the online regulation of gaming was inserted.

“We’re pissed off,” Pappas said of the development.

Rockin’ in Denver. The Grammy Foundation serenaded lawmakers and other convention-goers at a late-night concert Tuesday that included the tunes of Daughtry, the Flobots and Everclear.

The free tunes and open bar at Denver nightclub The Church, a onetime house of worship, did come with a price tag: Attendees had to hear about the importance of music education.

“Normally this time of year, we would bring hundreds of people to the Hill,” said Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

But because Congress has hit the road for the political conventions, the Grammy group decided to follow along. The organization is also planning a similar event next week in Minneapolis for the GOP convention.

Kristen Madsen, who runs the Grammy Foundation, said the event Wednesday would help the group “maintain awareness and funding” for its agenda of promoting music in the schools.

The Church provided a unique location for the event. The stage was once an altar, and the Grammy Foundation’s logo was displayed directly under a stained glass window featuring Jesus and biblical figures.

All this was amid a backdrop of gothic arches and vaulted ceilings.

Corporate backers of the event included Best Buy, Lockheed Martin, Southern Co. and Greenberg Traurig.

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