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The guest list at McDonnell's invitation-only retreat

Anita Kumar

Curious about who made the long drive to the posh Homestead Resort on Friday to spend the day golfing, hiking and swimming with Gov. Bob McDonnell?

So were we.

Here are just a few of the bold-faced names who attended McDonnell's invitation-only retreat: Jim Beamer and Jim Eck of Dominion Virginia Power, one of the most influential companies in the state; Bobbie Kilberg, president of the Northern Virginia Technology Council; lobbyists Steve Horton and Mike Thomas of the giant law firm McGuire Woods; and Ed Gillespie, a longtime Republican strategist who was chairman of McDonnell's campaign.

"You would have to be from another planet not to know this is the way it works,'' Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said. "Every day, all summer along, all across the country, there are events like this. It's not a big deal."

In Virginia, Democratic and Republican legislators also drive to the Homestead in the western part of the state each summer for their own retreats, which double as fundraisers. Hundreds of lobbyists and others attend the events, which raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last month, about 300 attended the House Republican caucus's sixth annual event at Homestead, raising $500,000. Hundreds will attended next month's Democratic fundraiser for the House and Senate. The Democrats have been holding their joint event since the late 1980s.

"Every governor, every legislative caucus for two decades now has done something like this,'' former attorney general Jerry Kilgore (R) said while sitting by the Homestead pool Friday. "It's just a more relaxed way for people to get to know each other outside the halls of the General Assembly."

Most of McDonnell's Cabinet also attended as did several other members of his senior staff, including Chief of Staff Martin Kent. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) was there. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II was invited but did not go.

In addition to recreation, participants were treated to panel discussions about job creation, McDonnell's top priority, and a political update on Republican politics nationally.
McDonnell, who played nine holes of golf Friday, also cut the ribbon on the new "Governor's Suite" at Homestead as part of the resort's $4 million renovation. A commemorative plaque with a letter from McDonnell along with a photo of his family is displayed on the wall outside of the suite.

All guests are paying their own way, though McDonnell's political action committee, Opportunity Virginia, will pay for some costs, such as Friday's continental breakfast and outdoor barbecue. Staff members are taking vacation time to be there.

By Anita Kumar  |  June 18, 2010; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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This is the stuff the tea party should protest. Can a retreat like this be any further from the "grassroots"?

Posted by: richmond56 | June 19, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

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