There’s a saying: it’s good to be king and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is a king, or sorts, in Congress. He is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. The committee drafts tax policy and some of the businesses seeking to get in Grassley’s good graces are paying for some fancy receptions here in New York City. On Wednesday morning, the Aegon company paid for a breakfast spread “honoring” Grassley. The senator and the other delegates at the convention were treated to free, made-to-order omelets and cappuccinos as well as a smorgasbord of other breakfast fare.
“It’s an opportunity for us, as Iowans, to enjoy fellowship with each other, but also as individual Iowans…to think about the greatness of Iowa and that is our good corporate citizens that we have,” Grassley said. Aegon’s Pat Baird even presented Grassley with his own Wheaties box, with his picture on it. Afterwards, Iowa Congressman Jim Leach joked with Grassley about the event, and pulled the invitation out of his pocket.
“Chuck, I’m wondering if you could autograph my invitation,” Leach said, as Grassley, Leach and the crowd of reporters around Grassley started laughing.
“The most significant thing out of this news conference is not anything that’s been said, but do you realize that a member of the House of Representatives asked a Senator for his autograph? I can’t believe that. If I didn’t have a strong heart, I wouldn’t be able to take that,” Grassley said.
This morning, Prudential will host another event for Grassley that’ll provide breakfast for the Iowans at the convention. This evening, Amgen – a pharmaceutical company — will host another reception for Grassley and his Iowa guests. Earlier this week, Verizon hosted an ice cream social at the Plaza Hotel for Grassley and his Iowa delegates, and it wasn’t just any ice cream. It was Hagen Daas. The wining and dining at both political conventions is nothing new, although the companies know better than to serve hooch at a Grassley event. One oil company executive says his firm used to set up a free martini bar for breakfast for delegates from Louisiana and their infamous leader Huey Long.