- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 24, 2013

It’s a regular hoopla, all right, and a lucrative one.

A spate of Democratic lawmakers are using March Madness to raise some campaign funds as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament arrives in the nation’s capital.

Those hosting their fetes at the Verizon Center — about 10 blocks from the White House — are commanding up to $5,000 a person from donors who want to share b-ball, good eats and convivial politics for a few hours.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland host two events on Thursday and Saturday; ditto Rep. James P. Moran of Virginia, though neither has a team in the competition. The price? The range is $1,000 to $2,000 a person.

Reps. Bruce L. Braley of Iowa and Eliot L. Engel of New York, meanwhile, are hosting single events on Thursday; Mr. Braley has the most expensive ticket at $5,000.

The Grand Old Party did not overlook a few grand old parties either. Though these were not at the Verizon Center. Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho and John Thune of South Dakota hosted previous March Madness-themed fundraising events at private locations in the Washington area.

“Recent studies show March Madness can lead to millions of lost dollars for businesses. It can also lead to huge profits — for lawmakers, that is,” points out Louis Serino, an analyst with the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time, a watchdog which tracks the influential fetes and soirees of candidates, including those who use basketball as a centerpiece.

BLOOMBERG’S TARGET

Mark the calendars, get out the noisemakers.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has declared Thursday to be the “National Day to Demand Action.” He’s recruiting anyone and everyone to call, email or Tweet their lawmakers and demand a fix of “our broken gun laws,” this following a $12 million ad buy in a dozen states touting the very same cause. Mr. Bloomberg also is pushing a terse public petition that simple reads “Members of Congress: Take action to end gun violence,” showcased on a new activist website demandaction.org.

“We demanded a plan and we got one. We demanded a vote and we’ll get one,” says Mr. Bloomberg, who paid for the ads out of his own pocket and is co-chairman of the 900-member Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

“While they are home for this recess, members of Congress will hear directly from their constituents who support sensible gun law reforms like expanded background checks,” said fellow co-chairman and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

TARGETS OF YORE

“Politicians can be quite disarming.”

(Headline from a National Rifle Association print advertisement in The Washington Post, April 5, 1990)

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