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POLITICS

Swag suite mini-scandal settled?

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Nikki Schwab

Organizers say there will still be a swag suite for celebrities taking place over White House Correspondents' Association Dinner weekend, but don't think for a minute that it's associated with Saturday's big event.

Last week, the Los Angeles public relations firm GBK put out a press release announcing that they would be raising money for the Creative Coalition by hosting a gifting suite for celebrities, and a few select journalists, held in conjunction with the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. (For those unfamiliar with the concept, gifting suites are usually held alongside big Hollywood events, with companies buying into them so that their products get placed in front of celebrity faces.)

The press release upset the White House Correspondents' Association, whose attorney George Lehner snapped to attention, threatening legal action against GBK for using the association and the dinner's name. In addition, White House Correspondents' Association President Ed Henry told Yeas & Nays that he found the whole concept of the swag suite "disgusting." "This dinner is not about swag, it's about scholarships," he told us Tuesday.

On Wednesday, all parties involved have seemingly made peace. GBK's Gavin Keilly penned a letter, first reported by Politico, to Henry apologizing for the use of the WHCA's name. "We truly did not intend to lead anyone to believe that GBK's charity lounge was in any way affiliated with the White House Correspondents [sic] Association Dinner," Keilly wrote. "Also, I want to make sure you know that The Creative Coalition neither approved of, nor was aware that the media alert was sent out."

Creative Coalition head Robin Bronk confirmed that to Yeas & Nays. "They did not follow protocol," she noted. "GBK tries to do good things and it was bungled."

That being said, the swag suite will go on as a fundraiser for the Creative Coalition and will coincide with the group's Arts Advocacy Day, which takes place Friday.

"This had as much to do with the White House Correspondents' Dinner as it has to do with the debt ceiling -- I guess it does have to do with the debt ceiling because this is funding for the arts," Bronk mused. "Let me think of a good comparison -- as much to do with the White House Correspondents' Dinner as it has to do with the birth of the royal baby."

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