After the Republican National Convention climaxed with Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech (and Clint Eastwood’s bizarre performance art), a week of industry-funded parties was capped off by a huge “nonpartisan” bash thrown by the American Petroleum Institute, an oil trade group that, as Lee Fang writes in this week’s issue, has been anything but nonpartisan. API has funded massive lobbying efforts to counteract any attempt by the Obama administration to battle climate change—an administration failure Mitt Romney openly mocked in his speech last night—and has also funded opponents of Democrats who might want to make it an issue.
After the convention wrapped up, thousands of people flocked to a nearby concert venue in the Channelside district of Tampa to see a concert by the Zac Brown Band, a wildly popular country music group. A stream of luxury cars idled out front, though most of the attendees seemed to be young people looking for a party.
As Fang demonstrates, API’s lobbying runs much, much deeper than a concert at the RNC—Romney’s energy platform is clear evidence of that. But the show by Zac Brown Band, Grammy-winning artists that regularly sell out large arenas, was by far the most talked-about afterparty of the night. And that’s what API wanted. “We knew we’d have everybody’s focus,” Marty Durbin, vice president for governmental affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, told FuelFix. “So we wanted to make sure we were here and visible and participating in as many of the policy discussions as we can.”
While API’s lobbying efforts are clearly targeted at the Obama administration, its party planning is still nonpartisan. Next week in Charlotte, during the Democratic National Convention, it will be throwing another big concert featuring O’Malley’s March—a Celtic rock band that once featured Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who currently chairs the Democratic Governors Association.