This time, parties aren’t what brought former influence peddler Jack Abramoff to the Republican National Convention.
At what he jokingly called his “first post-incarceration convention,” Abramoff said he was in Tampa mostly to tell the media what happens at the private receptions he once frequented as a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig and Preston Gates & Ellis (now K&L Gates) before he pleaded guilty in 2006 to bribery, fraud and tax evasion charges. The disgraced lobbyist said he was busy talking to ABC News, BBC News and Inside Edition, among other media outlets.
“It’s a very, very different experience,” said Abramoff, who has become a vocal advocate for tougher ethics rules after the release of his memoir, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist, last year.
During the convention, Abramoff said he ran into old friends, who were “wonderfully kind.” The former lobbyist said he only heard “a snipe here and there” from his detractors.
But Abramoff, who spent 3 1/2 years in prison before his release in 2010, isn’t bothered by the criticism. “I couldn’t care less,” he said. — Andrew Ramonas
Rock Star, Jersey-Style
Chicago lawyer Christine Svenson came to Florida ready to gaze at some of the biggest political stars. She and fellow Chicago attorney Jessica White, both solo practitioners, hit the Cuban Club in Ybor City on August 27 for an American Conservative Union bash that included three of Mitt Romney’s sons.
Svenson was most excited the next day to have successfully procured a badge to get into the Tampa Bay Times Forum to see the speech by her version of a rock star: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
“People like to see Lady Gaga, I like to go see Chris Christie,” said Svenson, trying to describe her excitement. “He tells it like it is, with a great sense of humor.”
He’s the kind of guy, she said, you could have a cheeseburger and beer with. — Todd Ruger
On TV, it might have seemed that the main job of delegates to the Republican National Convention was to wave Romney-Ryan signs and cheer on their favorite convention-floor speakers. It turns out that delegates — including many of the lawyers among them — were up to lots more in Tampa, ranging from debating convention procedural issues to trying to get Mitt Romney to meet their child.
Reporters Andrew Ramonas and Todd Ruger have been covering the conventions for The National Law Journal. For more of their dispatches, please visit http://legaltimes.typepad.com/.
Meet and Greet
Delaware attorney Timothy Houseal served as a delegate last week, although some of his efforts involved jockeying for his 13-year-old daughter, Abigail, to continue what must be a rare streak.
This will be the fourth presidential election in Abigail’s life now, and so far she has been held by or shook the hand of every victorious candidate.
George W. Bush held her when she was just six months old. Four years later, Bush shook her hand. Four years after that, Barack Obama stepped through the crowd at a campaign stop right outside Houseal’s office and made a sort of beeline for Abigail and shook her hand, he said.
Last week, Houseal said he notified the Romney campaign of the phenomenon. “We’ve told them that if he wants to become president, he needs to meet my daughter,” Houseal said while standing on the convention hall floor on August 28.
As of August 30, the last day of the convention, there was still no meeting. Abigail didn’t seem too bothered; she was too busy trading the relatively rare Delaware delegate pins for a collection of pins from other states. — Todd Ruger
In It Officially
Ignacio Sanchez has plenty of experience around national politics, but he says he gained a new perspective after his time on the convention floor last week as a Maryland delegate.
The Washington- and Miami-based DLA Piper partner and co-chairman of the firm’s federal law and policy group has been to the Republican National Convention before to host or attend some of the surrounding private events for clients. He even got away this time to a breakfast and a few other events.
But the lobbyist, a major Mitt Romney fundraiser who hosted the candidate’s first Washington-based official campaign event this election season in his D.C. law office, never before had an official role like this, casting votes for Romney’s candidacy along with a host of procedural issues. He spent most of August 28 in the Maryland delegation seats on the floor, about a dozen rows back from the right side of the stage.
“It’s different because you’re following all the rules issues, and when you’re on the outside, you just watch it on TV,” Sanchez said. He was impressed by the friendliness all the delegates showed to each other, and said he delighted in getting a chance to meet people from Florida to Alaska on the convention floor. “This big country becomes a small community in this hall,” he said. — Todd Ruger