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venues of interest • POSTED - 11.19.10 BY Keenan Steiner

Contractors’ house a big presence on Hill fundraising scene

Part of a series on Fundraising Spots Around the Capitol

Early yesterday evening, after the carrots and dip were cleared away, the new chief of staff to Chris Gibson, part of the large GOP freshman class going through orientation this week, left the Associated General Contractors of America townhouse, which he rented out for a fundraiser, with one of the group’s lobbyists.

The Associated General Contractors of America townhouse

Lobbyists stopped by to greet Gibson and his top aide during the hour and a half event, which asked for as much as $2,500 from political action committees to retire the former West Point professor’s campaign debt. Stallmer, who is leaving his job as a lobbyist for AGC’s New York chapter, said he chose the restored, red brick townhouse simply for its location, just two blocks south of the Capitol.

The AGC banner opened up their townhouse for meet-and-greets three times this week, said Marco Giamberardino, the lobbyist walking out of the event with Stallmer, adding to the house’s bounty: the group has put on more congressional fundraisers than all other offices and homes near the Capitol, according to an analysis of Party Time’s database. The group represents the construction industry, and its lobbying activities revolve around opposing new regulations on federal contractors, improving the business climate for the industry and pushing for more federal infrastructure investment.

AGC is just one of the 22 trade associations and two unions seeking to influence Congress that have houses or offices around the Capitol where members put on fundraisers, the analysis showed. [See the embeddable map: Where the sites are and who holds the most events]

All of the 24 groups have political action committees and holding congressional fundraisers helps them further their goals. AGC’s lobbyists often attend the fundraisers at the townhouse, AGC lobbyist Jeff Shoaf said, and its PAC has donated nearly $900,000 to campaign coffers last election, about three fourths of which went to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“There is 15 to 29 percent unemployment in our industry; we want people to think about that,” Shoaf said, adding, “we want people to think about creating jobs in our industry.”

Though Gibson’s event was rather sober, it was an ideal warm up for the bevy of fundraisers on the Hill last night, where lobbyists were marketing themselves to incoming freshman members. One lobbyist leaving Gibson’s informal affair said he would attend 10 schmooze-fests just last night; Stallmer himself said he went to seven this week. Why? “It’s called networking,” Stallmer said.

Only a half block away from this venue is another popular location: the Capitol Hill Club, a private Republican club abutting the National Republican Committee. And just after 6 p.m. last night, it was a party, packed to the gills with lobbyists, staffers and members of Congress for a slew of fundraisers.

Giamberardino said that AGC does not favor one political party, noting that the group supports Democrats Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., (planner of many fundraisers at the house) and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., both champions of infrastructure spending. Both are among the top recipients of AGC PAC money.

Stallmer brushed away the suggestion that Gibson got particular support from contractors, even though only two House candidates received more donations (including individual donors and PACs) from general contractors than Gibson last election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Though he said he unaware which industries donated the most to his new boss, he knew how much AGC’s PAC had given.

“AGC didn’t even max out on Gibson,” Stallmer said.

Gibson received nearly $5,000 from AGC’s PAC, CRP data shows, about half of the maximum legal contribution from PACs to candidates.

The donation was given days after what FEC records show was a late June fundraiser at the AGC townhouse. The catering and $150 charge to rent the space was donated to the Gibson campaign as an in-kind contribution.

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Beneficiary: congressional candidate, lawmaker, or entity which collects funds raised at party

Host: person who is hosting party-often, but not always, a registered federal lobbyist

Venue Name: where the party is

Entertainment Type: type of gathering, such as "breakfast," "ski trip," "bowling"

Other Lawmakers Mentioned: lawmakers mentioned on invitation who are used as a draw for the event

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