Last night, reporters in Tampa idled by the cancellation of the first night of the Republican convention ran into oil mogul David Koch at a local restaurant. One got a photo:
— Matt Laslo (@MattLaslo) August 28, 2012
(Shortly afterward, a staffer with Koch asked that the reporters not reveal their location to "your 'Occupy' friends.")
A Koch spotting at the convention should not come as a surprise. The convention exists for three reasons, in decreasing order of importance: to generate several days' worth of live prime-time television coverage, to create a way for donors and candidates to mix and mingle, and to set a party platform and nominate a candidate.
Over the weekend, The New York Times looked at that second element, the ecosystem of donors and parties and events and giveaways that surrounds each convention.
When thousands of delegates, elected officials and party leaders begin arriving in Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention, hundreds of lobbyists, corporate executives, trade associations and donors will be waiting for them, exploiting legal loopholes -- and the fun-house atmosphere -- that make each party’s quadrennial conventions a gathering of money and influence unrivaled in politics.
In many ways, their activities amount to a parallel convention, one in which access to elected officials, party leaders and delegates provides corporations, interest groups and lobbyists a chance to advance their causes as the party goes about its official business nearby.
Lobbyists and trade groups, virtually all with business before Congress and federal agencies, are paying for a nonstop schedule of beach parties, concerts and cocktail hours.