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Lobbyists Tout Becerra’s Appointment to Deficit Panel

Less than two hours after Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) was named to the new Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, lobbyists working on his behalf seized on the new credential as a moneymaker.

Invitations for a fundraiser hosted by the Investment Company Institute — a trade group that has spent more than $2.4 million on lobbying this year, according to federal records — landed in inboxes Thursday afternoon, according to an invitation obtained by Roll Call.

The message touted Becerra’s newly won power as a member of the panel, promising a rare audience with one of the 12 lawmakers tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in savings before Thanksgiving.

Checks for the “suggested contribution” of $1,500 should be made out to Becerra for Congress, the invitation said.

The solicitation came as President Barack Obama scolded Congress for allowing politics to dominate the discourse in Washington. “Stop sending out press releases,” he said during a speech in Michigan on Thursday. “Start passing some bills that we all know will help our economy right now.”

Liberal watchdog groups have called on the members of the deficit reduction committee to stop fundraising during their deliberations and have paid particular attention to committee co-Chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), who also chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Becerra said he did not know that his new role would be used to lure donors.

“I did not know, did not ask, would not ask and I will not ask any of my supporters to use my appointment to the select committee for purposes outside its principle focus,” Becerra said in a statement. “That’s my position today and that’s what my position will be for my tenure on the committee.”

The fundraiser “has been on our schedule way before we knew this commission was even an idea,” an aide added.

Still, the party will go on, kicking off at 6 p.m. Aug. 31 in ICI’s office at 1401 H St. NW in Washington, D.C.

“This will be Mr. Becerra’s first event since being named to the commission and may be one of the first for any of the twelve members of the group,” James Hart, a political affairs officer for the organization, wrote in an email that accompanied the invitation. “This event could give all attendees a glimpse into what will most assuredly be the primary topic of discussion between now and the end of the year.”

Four of the group’s registered lobbyists — Dean Sackett, Peter Gunas III, Allen Huffman and Donald Auerbach — are listed as hosts of the reception along with Hart and its president, Paul Schott Stevens.

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