Kingston will co-chair GOP dinner

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced yesterday that Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) would co-chair the 2005 President’s Dinner, the largest annual fundraising dinner for congressional Republicans.

President Bush will be the keynote speaker at the June 14 event, which will be held at the Washington Convention Center and is organized jointly by the NRCC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

Kingston will join Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is chairing the event for the NRSC.

The NRCC expects to raise $14.5 million at the dinner while the NRSC hopes to raise $8 million as the two committees restock their campaign coffers for the 2006 midterm elections.

“I am thrilled to have a proven leader like Jack Kingston spearheading our President’s Dinner effort, and I look forward to working with him on this important project,” NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) said in a statement released yesterday.

Kingston, the current vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, will oversee a group of 35 fellow House members charged with meeting the projected fundraising goals.

The minimum donation for a ticket to the event is $2,500. For donations of $100,000 or more, an individual or political action committee director earns two seats at the head table and a photo with the president, among other perks.

Donors can also earn tickets to a breakfast with House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) or lunch with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

In a related note, Kingston and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) were expected to hand out the first six Ronald Reagan Awards during today’s conference meeting. The recipients are House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Reps. Chris Chocola (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Clay Shaw (R-Fla.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who received the award for “their outstanding efforts to communicate the need to strengthen Social Security.”

Awards were given to members who, among other things, held at least 12 district events on Social Security reform, placed at least one op-ed in a local newspaper, met with at least one advocacy group for senior citizens and sent out at least one districtwide franked mail piece on the subject.

“Their leadership on this issue is helping spark more discussion across kitchen tables and classrooms throughout the nation,” Kingston said. “I urge my colleagues in Congress to follow the example set today to help answer that call.”

The Ronald Reagan Awards were established to encourage conference members to hold public events about Social Security reform in coordination with the administration’s “60 Stops in 60 Days” tour.

DeLay expressed frustration after the Presidents Day recess that more House Republicans had not held events in their districts, and he vocally encouraged his members to continue talking about the issue.

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