POLITICS

Congress cashes in on March Madness

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Nikki Schwab

March Madness has all the ingredients for a fun congressional fundraiser -- basketball, a little booze and a rabid fan base. On Wednesday, the Sunlight Foundation compiled a list of members of Congress using the games to raise cash.

Last week, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., started off the trend with a "Gear Up for March Madness" reception at Google's Washington headquarters. Proceeds benefited the Google NetPAC. On Thursday, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is hosting a March Madness kickoff for the Freedom Fund at the Diageo Townhouse on Capitol Hill. "Diageo is the world's largest producer of alcoholic beverages; Crapo is a Mormon and recently had a small drunk driving accident," notes Sunlight. (Crapo was pulled over for running a red light in Alexandria and pleaded guilty to drunken driving).

Since the Verizon Center is the venue where some of the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games are being played, Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., Jim Moran, D-Va., Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, are all taking advantage, allowing their donors to catch some of the games.

And then there's Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who is using the Palazzo casino in Las Vegas as the backdrop for his "Weekend of Basketball" event kicking off this Friday, to raise cash for his Heller High Water PAC.

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