POLITICS

RNC worked with firm that tried to hire Gaga for convention

By |
Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio

Despite their earlier denials, Republican convention planners coordinated with the outside fundraising group that tried to hire Lady Gaga to perform during last summer's gathering in Tampa, emails obtained by The Washington Examiner show.

Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee issued a statement claiming it had no connection with American Action Network, a conservative organization that tried to hire Lady Gaga for $1 million. The group also sought the rapper Pitbull and country singer Dolly Parton, to perform in a tented area near the convention hall.

The statement came after the party received complaints from donors and conservative groups and criticism from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh over the effort to get Lady Gaga to entertain during the convention.

RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said AAN is unaffiliated with the party, suggesting it had no role in trying to hire Gaga. An earlier statement from AAN also insisted that the RNC was not involved in trying to hire Gaga.

But internal emails obtained by The Examiner show the RNC and AAN were indeed planning some of the entertainment together, though none of the emails specifically mention Lady Gaga.

For instance, AAN was interested in hiring the rapper Pitbull (for $250,000) as well as singer Gloria Estefan (for $750,000).

The email exchange copies in Jason Osborne, the director of external affairs for the 2012 Republican National Convention. In one email about paying Estefan a hefty deposit, Osborne jokes about dressing up as the Cuban American pop star and lip synching her songs.

"We would only charge $350k deposit," Osborne writes in an email to the catering company and AAN Development Director Pete Meachum.

Osborne was hired to work under the convention's Committee on Arrangements, which is composed of an executive committee, as well as at least one member from each state and territory who were appointed by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.

Spicer on Friday said that Osborne "had no authority" over the entertainment and that the Committee on Arrangements, "had no role or knowledge of what took place at the space," once they assigned it to a vendor. 

"The Committee on Arrangement (COA) acted as a wholesale broker to groups looking for venues," Spicer said. "Once a venue was assigned, the COA had no role in what took place at the space.  Bill Harris, the CEO of COA was the only person with the authority to sign off on venues."

The emails are included in a lawsuit filed by AAN against Cater America LLC, which was hired by AAN to arrange the entertainment.

According to Rob Jennings, who owns Cater America, AAN and convention planners were in frequent contact, despite claims by Spicer.

"It's entirely untrue that AAN wasn't talking to convention organizers and that they weren't privy" to the planning, Jennings told The Examiner.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment