Pennsylvania's political elite gear up for annual Manhattan gathering
December 6, 2012By Mary Wilson
The Keystone State's political elite will head to Manhattan this weekend for the 114th annual Pennsylvania Society gathering.
The constellation of parties hosted by politicians, law firms, and lobbyists is held in and around the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as part of an effort by the nonprofit to celebrate service to the commonwealth.
The governor traditionally addresses the gathering.
Government reform advocate Eric Epstein of Rock the Capitol, says he's wary of all that hobnobbing.
"All power elites in all three branches of government get together for a weekend in New York City and cut deals that affect everybody in Pennsylvania for the rest of the year," says Epstein, who has never attended.
Democratic strategist Larry Ceisler, who hosts one of the weekend's parties, says it's not the hotbed of deal-making some may think.
"The conversations there are so short because people -- there's just so many people there that it is really much more a social event and 'how ya doin',' than anything really deep and in-depth," he said.
Some acknowledge the Pennsylvania Society has seen a rise in the number of fundraisers tucked between cocktail parties and dinners, and a lot of the events are invitation-only.
But Ceisler says anyone can get into some of the events and get rare face-time with elected officials.
But it could be expensive.
Price of entry into some fundraisers is several thousand dollars. Tickets to the dinner anchoring the whole affair are between $350 and $400.
A state House Democratic spokesman says the tradition isn't coming at the taxpayers' expense -- it's paid for with campaign funds, corporate accounts, and personal money.