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Party On Pass the canapés: Lobbyist-sponsored parties at the national political conventions are back in vogue. Lobbying reform legislation that passed earlier this year threw firms that typically sponsor shindigs into a tizzy. They wondered if the lavish parties during national presidential nominating conventions would still be legal. Some floated the idea of hosting events just before and after the conventions, scheduled for August 2008 in Denver (Democrats) and Minneapolis (Republicans). But earlier this month, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct said parties are allowed, as long as they meet other rules governing events that lawmakers may attend (finger food only, folks!) and don’t honor a specific member. Watchdog groups including the Campaign Legal Center, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Public Citizen, and Democracy 21 have objected, saying the ruling opens “gaping loopholes.” But lobbyists who were eagerly waiting for an ethics ruling are — at least tentatively — beginning to freshen up those guest lists. Some groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, are still evaluating the ethics ruling and deciding whether they’ll host an event. But others are moving ahead. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld usually hosts parties without honoring specific members and will likely do the same again. Patton Boggs managing partner Stuart Pape says he’s close to signing a contract with a venue in Denver, and the firm will likely partner with clients again to host events in both convention-hosting cities. “We usually try and do a party that has some class associated with it,” he says. The Podesta Group’s Tony Podesta, a legendary host, says Republicans who work at his firm will plan a Minneapolis event, and he’s headed to Denver after the first of the year to scout out a venue. “There won’t be a shortage of shrimp who die for the Democratic convention,” he jokes. — Carrie Levine
Erie Feeling Cassidy & Associates President Jack Quinn Jr., a former congressman, is currently the sole finalist for the presidency of Erie Community College in upstate New York. The school’s board is expected to make a decision in January, according to The Buffalo News. Erie’s board plans to interview him and vote on his nomination next month, and board members have been enthusiastic about his candidacy, the Buffalo paper reports. The school has roughly 13,000 students. Quinn, a Republican, represented part of upstate New York in Congress for 12 years before retiring and joining Cassidy in 2005. He was a teacher before running for office. In response to inquiries from Legal Times, Cassidy & Associates released the following statement: “With Congressman Quinn’s background in education, a number of his friends in Western New York encouraged him to take a closer look at this position and he is in the process of doing that. The Congressman has not made any final decisions.” While in Congress, Quinn chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, and many of his clients are linked to transportation. Norfolk Southern Corp. and the Association of American Railroads, among others, have registered with Cassidy since Quinn joined the firm. — Carrie Levine
Empty Saddle Trade associations come and go in Washington, and the American Quarter Horse Association did the latter last month. The association, which represents its namesake breed’s industry, pulled the plug on an effort that had spent up to $170,000 a year, primarily in opposition to a federal ban on horse slaughterhouses. When an Illinois mandate shuttered the last domestic facility, association public policy director Barbara Linke says, “we didn’t really have an issue we had to lobby for anymore.” Linke notes that other equestrian organizations still represent the association’s interests. But a bill restricting the transport of horses to slaughter in Mexico and Canada remains in play, and some horse industry lobbyists are staying in town. Beltex, a Fort Worth, Texas, company specializing in horse meat, is registered to lobby through its own staff as well as the firm Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Bode Matz, though under a different name: The Common Sense Horse Coalition seems to have a better ring. — Jeff Horwitz

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