Amid Budget Negotiations, Speaker Boehner Attends Fundraiser For Lobbyists

April 07, 2011 3:16 pm ET — Jamison Foser

Yesterday, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) tweeted his disbelief that President Obama would attend a fundraiser while "The country's going broke":

That's a bit of a non-sequitur, but Walsh presumably meant that the president should be spending his time working towards a resolution to the impasse over government funding rather than on things like fundraisers. What, then, must Walsh make of the news that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) took time out from negotiations to introduce the head of a drug-company trade group at an awards dinner for lobbyists?

Washingtonian reports

The 30th annual Bryce Harlow Foundation award dinner, held at the Capital Hilton, brought together senators, members of Congress, and lobbyists. Speaker of the House John Boehner even made time to stop by on his way to the White House to meet with President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss a budget compromise.

The Bryce Harlow Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting high standards in the government-relations industry. Proceeds from the annual dinner support the foundation's fellowships, which are given to students pursuing lobbying careers.

Boehner was there to introduce honoree John Castellani, current president and CEO of the powerful drug-company trade group PhRMA and previously head of the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs. Castellani received the group's business-government-relations award, given to leaders within the lobbying community.

Despite the somber White House meeting ahead of him, Boehner opened with a joke, telling the audience, "I promise I will treat you the way Elizabeth Taylor treated her fifth husband, when she said, 'Don't worry, I won't keep you long.'" He went on to praise the lobbyists in the room and all they do to promote business and "defend the American dream."

Just so it's completely clear: On his way to the White House for budget negotiations, House Speaker John Boehner stopped off at a fundraiser — and not just any fundraiser, a fundraiser for aspiring lobbyists, where he introduced the head of PhRMA.