Both Republicans and Democrats 'swank'
Protestors outside a Wednesday fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River, Ore.) and Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan (R-Janesville, Wis.) not only had beef with the policies the two politicians promote, but also with the venue — a "swanky" country club called The Waverly.
Although protestors also were there to contest Republican efforts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there was also some criticism of the venue and the fundraiser's hefty price tag, according to The Oregonian.
Emblematic of the criticism was a statement from the Democratic Party of Oregon's Executive Director Brad Martin, who said:
"It is just plain offensive that Rep. Walden and Speaker Ryan are hosting a high-end fundraiser with $25,000 dinners for the rich, while this same Republican team led the fight to rob healthcare from hundreds of thousands of Oregonians earning under $25,000 a year."
While donors to Ryan's PAC could attend a private dinner for a $2,500 donation, KGW reported earlier this month that the event also set $25,000 donations for a "private VIP meeting," and $10,000 for a "VIP photo opportunity" with Ryan.
Another distinct invitation, the TV station reported, said that donors to Walden's PAC could donate $1,000 for a reception or $2,700 for a photo op.
While income inequality and the role of money in politics are valid topics of conversation and debate, it's not exactly fair to draw a partisan distinction here when it comes to pricey fundraisers.
The wealthy have an outsized role in helping most Congressional campaigns in Oregon, regardless of party affiliation.
In the current campaign cycle all of Oregon's five U.S. Representatives are getting the largest share of their donations from large individual donors giving $200 or more and from Political Action Committees (PACs), according to records maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Oregon Representative to get the largest share of donations under $200 in the current campaign cycle is Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR 4), at about 31 percent of the funds he's raised since the beginning of the year.
The Democrats among Oregon's congressional delegation have held fundraisers that rival the Ryan-Walden swank factor, according to the Sunlight Foundation:
In 2014, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3) held a "Pinot in Portland" event, at $2,600 a head for individuals and $5,000 for PACs.
In 2013,DeFazio held a D.C. fundraiser with suggested contributions of $5,000 for "co-hosts," $2,500 for PACs, and $1,000 for individuals.
In 2014, U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1) had an Oregon Wine, Cheese and Chocolate reception at Ball Janik LLP in Portland. The entry fee? For "hosts," $2,500; PACs, $1,500; and individuals, $250.
And a note on the country club aspect: state Democrats have events at country clubs too.
There will be a "celebration" for State Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, Oct. 6 at the Riverside Golf and Country Country Club.
Ticket price? $125 to $250. The event is a benefit for Healthcare For All Oregon, a nonprofit that promotes single-payer health care.
Greenlick chaired the House Health Care Committee this session.