Thursday, 13 October 2011 10:40
Should Rick Perry's VIP Reception With Jindal, Louisiana Officials Have Involved Media?
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PerryShould the law allow costly, private fundraisers for presidential candidates to be closed to the press and proceed unpublicized to the public, even though campaign contributions are reportable to the federal government by law and invitations went out to both state and federal officials:?
    That was the big question recently when Fax-Net was funneled a copy of an invitation to a local  fundraiser Sept. 24 for then-leading Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry of Texas at the home of William A. Robinson at 830 Ockley Drive in Shreveport.

    Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal – who’d just endorsed Perry but denied speculation of wanting to be his running mate – and 4th District U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, were listed among the invitees.
    The other question becomes whether Perry, Jindal, and Fleming were actually present for the VIP reception where “photo ops” cost $2,500 per invitee or $5,000 per couple, but listening to the "Texas-style" barbecue dinner speaker cost $1,000 and $2,000 respectively.
    If so, wasn’t it strange that at least a press conference was not held before or after the fact, considering how publicity-conscious politicians generally are?
    Asked whether The Times had been pre-informed of the Perry campaign-sponsored fundraiser, especially since Perry was then the leading and therefore most newsworthy Republican presidential candidate in the nation, a Times staffer was shocked to learn of the press not being made privy to the event.
    There was uncertainty on Times policy of exclusion from private events.  But that was made crystal-clear back in the 1960's when I was religion editor and private Centenary College officials attempted to ban me from attending and covering an on-campus event where controversial Chaplin Sloane Coffin urged anti-war students to burn their draft cards.
    We prominently covered it anyway, with the late Times editor Raymond McDaniel informing campus officials that despite the college being a private institution, “We’ll cover everything you hold if we choose to – or we’ll cover nothing at all.  That would include sporting, cultural, and alumni events that raise money.”
    But times have changed.  As Perry, now slipped way down the GOP presidential polls and in the words of a lead USA TODAY editorial has “lost his mojo,” so have many reporters lost their moxie in personally chasing down what the public has a right to know, despite shrinking pages and staff as computers take over.
by    Virginia Robicheaux was a longtime reporter and columnist in Washington, D.C.  She has returned to Shreveport.  Phone: 797-8773
Published first by Fax-Net

FAX-NET UPDATE is published weekly and delivered to your home or office by fax or e-mail. Subscription rates are: $50 for 12 months (50 issues) or $35 for six months. To subscribe, send check or money order to: Fax-Net Update, P.O. Box 44522, Shreveport, LA 71134. 

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