Tea Party insurgents swept the Republicans into power in 2010, riding a wave of frustration with the status quo to a majority in the House of Representatives. But after less than two years, many seem to have become quite comfortable with the ways of Washington, or, in this case, Key Largo:
That’s where we caught up with a select group of Republican freshmen, engaged in business as usual. But they didn’t come alone. They invited big campaign donors and lobbyists to join them – for a price. And we secretly sent our cameras along for a unique inside look at their first joint fundraiser, where special interests got the kind of access ordinary Americans can only dream of: on the golf course; over drinks at the resort bar; at a private beach lagoon.
“Book your Key Largo getaway now,” reads the invitation, obtained by CBS News. The hosts are veteran congressmen Spencer Bachus, of Alabama, Pete Sessions, of Texas, “and 12 of your favorite Republican freshmen!”
The 12: Sandy Adams (Fla.), Quico Canseco (Texas), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Bob Dold (Ill.), Sean Duffy (Wis.), Stephen Fincher (Tenn.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Penn.), Daniel Webster (Fla.), Mike Grimm (N.Y.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), Jim Renacci (Ohio) and Cory Gardner (Col).
Congressmen Canseco and Gardner were seen on camera heading in to host happy hour. To get in, donors had to pay at least $10,000.
During his campaign, Gardner promised average voters would inspire his actions. One ad said, “I will always put Colorado families before the Washington special interests.”
But in Key Largo, Gardner appeared to offer special interests lots of face time. He was seen on camera talking to an attendee who said he works for a bank. In another shot, he’s seen going charter fishing as part of the fundraising package — they head out on a group of boats including one named “Good Life.”