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Congressmen for sale:

A dozen or more congressional Republicans will gather at a resort in balmy Phoenix this week to hear the legislative wish lists of Western coal, power and mining companies - and raise money from them.

The four-day conference begins today with a $1,500-per-person round of golf and private dinner, dubbed "Mulligans and Margaritas." The money raised from industry officials will be divided among the re-election campaigns of the lawmakers, most of whom serve on committees that oversee the mining and energy industries.


The conference includes panel discussions with policymakers interspersed with cocktail receptions, dinners and two other golf tournaments. One agenda item: drawing up a "Top Ten To-Do List" for Congress for 2004.

"It is a festival of access-buying," says Frank O'Donnell of the Clean Air Trust, an environmental group often at odds with the conference's industry sponsors.


Jim Sims, the group's executive director, said industry sponsors will pay the food and lodging tab for members of Congress and other government participants. Rooms at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa start at $395 a night. Sims rejected O'Donnell's characterization, calling the event "an open-ended Western issues conference" that will focus on proposals to rewrite clean-air laws and the energy bill stalled in Congress.

Attendees include Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, and representatives of the Energy and Interior departments and the EPA.

Sims said House members confirmed as attending include Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon of Utah; Jim Kolbe of Arizona; Denny Rehberg of Montana; Darrell Issa of California; and Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

Replies: 3 Confessions

Darrell Issa? He's still in the House?! I thought sure Californians would have run him out of the state on a rail by now.

jima @ 01/07/2004 04:25 PM CST

How many days are they going to be at the Biltmore? Maybe it's time to dust off the ol' picket sign.

Mirele @ 01/08/2004 11:35 AM CST

Reminds me of that scandal in China where a whole bunch of spendy Japanese tourists descended on a hotel full of Chinese prostitutes for a big ol' orgy.

Jon H @ 01/08/2004 01:29 PM CST

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