Chalk another one up to the Jack Abramoff effect. Even the myriad temptations of Las Vegas could not induce members of Congress to risk the faintest association with scandal-ridden lobbyists by attending last week’s National Association of Broadcasters convention in Sin City.
Historically, key members of the House and Senate Commerce Committees have been mainstays at the NAB show, often on the trade association’s dime at an average $3,700 or so per trip. But just as they were at last month’s National Cable and Telecommunications Association show in Atlanta, the senators and congressman were MIA.
A policy breakfast usually lousy with pols (and the station executives who love to woo them) was a ghost town. Attendees munched on Special K while political consultant Stuart Rothenberg talked about the upcoming midterm elections.
The only elected official spotted was Congresswoman Shelly Berkley (D-Nev.). (Of course, it was probably only a short drive from her district office.) Still, here was a full roster of FCC commissioners, led by Chairman Kevin Martin, and about 20 commission staffers.
According to an analysis of Congressional disclosure statements by the Web site Political Moneyline, frequent NAB junketeers who didn’t make it include Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), both of whom are breaking a streak of five consecutive years in attendance.
The prize for the top hotel bill goes to Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers, who racked up $2,764 in charges on a no-doubt memorable trip to the 2001 convention.