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Members Put the Fun in Fundraisers

Some Members are using the recess to visit exotic locales — and fill their campaign coffers while they’re at it.

This month, some lawmakers will go hunting and fly-fishing, stay at five-star mountain resorts, play tennis in the Hamptons, watch baseball at Wrigley Field and, well, hang out in Fresno, Calif.

But it’s not cheap. According to a list of fundraiser invitations compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, guests will pay from $250 to $10,000 to attend.

Fly-fishing is the sport of choice for Members from the Mountain West. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is hosting his annual “Day in the Tetons” in Jackson Hole, Wyo., where supporters can fly-fish and dine with the Senator at the mountain resort for $2,500.

But, dollar for dollar, Sen. Mike Crapo’s fly-fishing event may be a better value. The Idaho Republican is hosting his annual “Hook ‘N Bullet” event at the Silver Springs Angus Ranch in Bellevue, Idaho. For the same amount supporters can fly-fish, trap shoot and go horseback riding.

“[Sen. Crapo] has done a lot of fly-fishing, and he’s a pretty experienced outdoorsman in hunting and fishing,” Crapo Communications Director Lindsay Nothern said. “Being from Idaho, that’s not out of the norm.”

Some donors prefer a more upscale evening with their Members.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) booked the five-star Colorado resort the Broadmoor for a weekend in the mountains ($275 to $5,000). Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) is doing the same, ditching his state’s muggy August weather for the cool air of an Aspen retreat ($2,500).

The Northeast is another popular destination for upscale gatherings.

Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) has a weekend trip planned to Nantucket ($1,000 to $2,500), while Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is hosting the “Newport Summer Weekend” in Rhode Island ($2,500 for two tickets). Those with truly romantic American sensibilities can attend Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) tennis event in the Hamptons.

Not all lawmakers will be able to lure wealthy donors on the strength of the venue alone, so some put bigger names on the ticket in an attempt to take in the tailwind dollars.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) represents a district that covers only minor cities in the state, such as Fresno and Bakersfield, but he was able to convince California Gov. Jerry Brown to make a trip there on his behalf ($1,000 to $5,000).

“Jerry Brown is usually in Sacramento or LA, but Fresno? It’s a pretty big deal to get him up to Fresno,”  Costa campaign consultant Michael Fraioli said.

Elsewhere, Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.) will offer the best of both worlds. They have the spot — the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort — and they also have Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as a sponsor. That package runs $10,000.

As summer winds down, Members will also take advantage of the last weeks of warm weather by watching or taking part in a sporting event.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) will be in New York City for the U.S. Open tennis tournament ($2,500), as will Gillibrand ($5,000).

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) is hitting the links for his “Seventh Annual Top Flight Open” at the Yankee Trace Golf Club ($275 to $5,000), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) will watch the Cubs take on the Braves at Wrigley Field on Aug. 23 ($1,000 – $2,500).

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