AT&T got its money's worth from the Blue Dogs

AT&T threw an invitation-only party on Monday night for the “Blue Dogs” in the House of Representatives. Matt Stoller found a blurb in the newspaper about this party:

Just because the Blue Dogs are fiscally conservative doesn’t mean they can’t have a good time, especially when AT&T is picking up the bill.

Why would AT&T want to throw an expensive party for the Blue Dogs? Maybe it’s because most of those Blue Dogs (including my own Congressman Leonard Boswell) voted with the House Republicans to pass a version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act containing retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that spied on Americans.

A group of well-known bloggers showed up outside the exclusive Denver restaurant to see who turned up. Glenn Greenwald of Salon, who wrote a book’s worth of material this year on FISA, tried to interview the people going into this party. Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake was there:

It was remarkable. I’ve never seen anything like it, really.  Glenn would announce that he was from Salon.com, ask them if they would be interviewed about the party, and nobody wanted to say who they were or even acknowledge that they knew what the party was about.

Almost every single person we talked with had the good sense to be ashamed of being there, but that didn’t stop them from going in.

I haven’t been able to confirm whether Boswell attended this party. Think Progress quotes the San Francisco Examiner, which reported that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was there:

Hoyer spokeswoman Stacey Bernards said Hoyer was not aware of any connection between the party and his work on the legislation.

“I’m sure Mr. Hoyer didn’t even know who the sponsor was,” she said.

Right. He had no idea who sponsored the party, even though numerous reports named AT&T as the sponsor. I’m sure Hoyer goes to parties all the time without asking who invited him.

From the San Francisco Examiner report:

AT&T is just one example of how political conventions have become a virtual bazaar where corporations and other special interests can peddle their wares, showcase their products and make a case for their favorite (or least favorite) piece of pending legislation.

The Texas-based company has the most high-profile corporate presence in Denver. It is a major sponsor at the convention, it is holding daily lunches for state delegations at the Pinnacle Club, with its startling views of the Rocky Mountain range, and co-hosting hip parties for the likes of the Screen Actors’ Guild and the New Democratic Coalition.

I seem to remember someone talking about the system being rigged because corporations have too much power in Washington, and how it wouldn’t be enough to replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats.

Oh yeah, it was that guy whose personal screw-up cost him a speaking slot at the convention. With him out of the picture, AT&T and the Blue Dogs can rest easy, because no prime-time speaker is going to be spreading that message in Denver.

Nor, I fear, are we likely to hear it from Democratic leaders in 2009.

This yellow-dog Democrat is not looking forward to checking the box next to Blue Dog Boswell’s name in November.

My best advice to those who are still angry about the FISA capitulation is don’t buy an iPhone. Getting one locks you into AT&T phone service.  

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