A $5,000-per-ticket “national innovation conference,” hosted by
the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and attended by senators
including New Mexico’s Jeff Bingaman, is being criticized by a consumer watchdog group that says it gives the appearance of “pay to play.”
“Senators should discuss public policy issues in open forums accessible
to anyone who is interested. The public must not be locked out of a
policy discussion that is taking place behind closed doors of a
donor-funded forum because average Americans cannot afford the price of
admission,” said a letter (pdf) Consumer Watchdog sent to the senators.
Bingaman’s spokeswoman, Jude McCartin, told the Independent in an
e-mail that the senator will attend the event, adding that no policy
will be made at the event.
The group is encouraging the six senators, (Bingaman, Diane Feinstein,
D-Calif., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Tom Carper, D-Del., Mark Warner,
D-Va., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska) to skip the
event. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Feinstein will not attend; she is the only one of the six senators who is up for reelection in 2010.
“Each of you would complain bitterly if the GOP held a fundraiser
called the ‘National Conference on the Future of Energy’ at Exxon
headquarters in Houston, aimed at donors across the oil patch,” the
According to the Chronicle, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign
Committee is planning a similar “technology summit,” also at $5,000 per
ticket, to be held in Washington Washington next week. The summit will
featuring GOP senators and representatives from Google and Facebook.