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It's Democrats' turn for Homestead fundraiser

Rosalind Helderman

Virginia Democrats have gathered for a fundraiser in the country at the gracious Homestead Resort in Hot Springs.

The annual joint retreat of the Democratic caucuses in the Senate and House of Delegates, which lasts through Wednesday, kicked off Monday evening with a barbecue at the four-star resort. The retreat includes a few party meetings but is largely about swimming and golfing and hobnobbing. Lobbyists and corporate representatives attend as well. Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw would not estimate how much the event will raise for the Senate and House races, nor would he estimate attendance.

Multiday Homestead fundraisers are the norm in Virginia politics, though they have been criticized by open government groups for fostering a cozy relationship between politicians and corporate lobbyists, who get unparalleled access to elected officials during the events.

Democrats have been holding their joint caucus retreat each year since 1988. Their event follows a similar retreat hosted by House Republicans at the Homestead in May that Republicans reported drew 300 and raised $500,000 for the party's caucus. Last month, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) hosted his own event at the Homestead, inviting supporters and campaign volunteers for a two-day event. That retreat was not intended a fundraiser, although participants paid their own way.

In a brief interview this morning, Saslaw noted that he had declined to criticize McDonnell's event and he likewise believes the Democrats' party is above-board. "I said his was no big deal," he said. "And this is no big deal either."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  July 6, 2010; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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