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Thursday, Sep 4, 2008, 6:41 pm

Off Camera, the Insider Parties Rage

By Jeremy Gantz

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The RNC's official business this week has been conducted from the late afternoon through prime time. That's the four-day on-camera party. But off-camera, in various locations in St. Paul and Minneapolis, countless parties, hosted by industry groups and specific state delegations, have been attended by legislators -- and, very often, lobbyists seeking to influence them.

The Sunlight Foundation has a great project called Party Time, which is cataloging all the private parties held during this week (and last week, in Denver). The RNC list is here.

Tuesday, at the Rally for the Republic, I met Max Kirkeide, a bass guitarist who the previous night played in a band at the Medtronic Inc. party for the Tenn., Ariz., Calif. and Minn. delegations. Here's his description of the evening:

Last night what I saw was essentially a lot of people in very expensive suits and very expensive dresses with very expensive watches and very expensive jewelry, eating very expensive food and acting very expensive.

Since the color on my pass was the event staff color, I wasn't really able to talk to many of the (delegates and donors).

They treated the musicians very well there - the staff was incredibly friendly. But, as far as the actual Republican delegation, they very much kept to themselves...

They had a bar made out of ice. They had a wall of ice. Large ice cubes, six to eight inch cubes, hanging form cables, with magical color lights reflecting on them... It looked like something straight out of a movie. It didn't look like a real-life event.

It was a complete schmooze fest. People trading business cards and saying "Hey, we'll see you tomorrow at the convention." It was very much a wall between the official Republican delegation and everyone else.

I'm probably going to get in trouble for saying all this stuff, but whatever, I already got the pay check.

Jeremy Gantz was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012. His January 2011 cover story for the magazine, "Terrorist by Association," was selected as a finalist for the Molly National Journalism Award 2012. He is now a contributing editor to the magazine, focusing on labor issues.

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