CAMPAIGN REFORM GROUPS PROTEST SPECIAL ACCESS LUNCHEON

April 16, 1997, 12:00 noon

CAMPAIGN REFORM GROUPS PROTEST SPECIAL ACCESS LUNCHEON

Fat Cats Dine on Squid Pro Quo and Fundraiser Foccaccia

Washington, D.C…. Public Citizen and other organizations advocating campaign finance reform today held a noontime demonstration outside of a special access luncheon at the Occidental Grill, a swank downtown Washington restaurant. The groups protested a luncheon featuring Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee for the Republican Presidential Roundtable, a group of 400 “concerned business leaders” who paid a $5,000 per year membership fee to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). Roundtable participants were treated to two days of speeches and other events at the exclusive Willard Hotel, including today’s luncheon.

“It’s the day after Tax Day, and already the special interests are pushing their special agendas with the tax writers in Congress,” said Frank Clemente, Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch. “This kind of special access event is exactly what disgusts average Americans about the campaign finance system.”

The protest included a mock “Fat Cat Luncheon,” featuring three portly, cigar-smoking cats who sat down to lunch in the park, with “Senator Lottsadough” serving as their well-dressed waiter. The alternative menu for the luncheon featured such delicacies as “Tax Haven Raven” and “Curried Favor Rice.” “Sauvignon Blanc Check” was the beverage of choice. Representatives from other organizations, including Common Cause, Public Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Gray Panthers, US PIRG, and the United Church of Christ, spoke at the mock luncheon to decry the campaign finance system that promotes such special access events.

“Millions of average Americans might like to have a word with the authors of the tax laws today,” noted Public Citizen staff attorney Bob Schiff, “but the Senators on the Finance Committee are too busy — busy pampering with corporate fat cats at an exclusive and expensive Washington restaurant. And you can bet that the people having lunch with them are not talking about making corporations pay their fair share of taxes.”