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Lobbyists Hold Holiday Party for House Govt Reform Committee

Deploying his deep pockets, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-VA) throws the annual holiday party for his committee staff. Some committees in Congress have their staff members cover the costs of their holiday party.

But House Government "Reform" Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) has come up a more creative arrangement. Lobbyists and defense contractors threw the annual holiday party for the Committee which, coincidentally, oversees federal agency contracting. Here's the invite.

Who needs Santa Claus when contractors have Chairman Tom Davis to thank for opening up the government's coffers? By our calculation following the House gift rules, each of the nine sponsors could spend up to $450 per staff or member of Congress. That's quite a party!

The December 15, 2005 bash was held in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building and was sponsored by:

McGuire Woods Consulting which employs former Tom Davis staffer Barnaby Harkins. Harkins worked for Davis for four years, "specifically focused on education, federal procurement and appropriations." Harkins lobbies for one of the largest foreign-owned defense contractors, shipping giant Maersk. In addition, one of the firm's clients is defense contractor Northrop Grumman Mission Systems.

Patton Boggs, which, in 2005, retained Peter Sirh, the former Staff Director for Davis' House Government Reform Committee and former Chief of Staff to Davis. Sirh helped Patton Boggs rake in a hefty $260,000 lobbying fee from MCI in the first six months of 2005, in part to "Assist MCI with contract issues relating to specific government contracts." MCI is competing for a $20 billion telecommunications contract which has been a pet project of Tom Davis. Committee staff members strenuously deny that Davis has a hand in choosing who gets the contract but a recent article suggested that contractors think otherwise.

Sirh's access to Tom Davis was a hot commodity for Patton Boggs. While there, Sirh also lobbied for:

Innovative Defense Strategies, where Peter Sirh also worked in 2005, also sponsored the party. It's an awfully strange coincidence that the firm gave a $5,000 political contribution to Tom Davis' wife in 2003, although Jeanmarie Devolites and Tom weren't married at that point.

PodestaMatton which lobbied on behalf of the government's #1 defense contractor, behemoth Lockheed Martin ($140,000 in fees from Jan-June 2005) as well as the Native American Contractors Association ($100,000 in fees from Jan-June, 2005). Hey, whatever happened to the Committee's investigation into abuses in Native American contracting?

Defense contractor BearingPoint which reported a whopping $500,000 in lobbying expenses in 2005 (that's a lot of Christmas parties!) including on "Govt. Contracting issues." BearingPoint (previously KPMG) has supported Tom Davis' annual legislative goody bag of contractor favors (known in shorthand as SARA and ASIA), some provisions of which he has succeeded in attaching to Defense Authorization bills.

Holland and Knight which openly brags about joining in a "drafting summit" with members of industry—held by Davis—staff to draft that contractor legislation.

Defense contractor General Dynamics, which opened a production facility in Tom Davis' district a few years back. At the time, Davis bragged of playing "a pivotal role in bringing the project to Northern Virginia."