Bennie Thompson helped bring lobbyists and congressmen to Tunica next month

Under ethics rules passed in 2007, lobbyists must report their contributions to non-profits connected to federal lawmakers twice a year. Spending in the first half of 2009 won’t become public until later this month, but interviews show the donations have continued to pour in.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, for instance, is among the sponsors of the Tunica gathering, planned for Aug. 13-16.

The event is organized by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and chairman of its leadership institute, a non-profit that helps blacks get elected.

Hannah Simone, a Nuclear Energy Institute lobbyist, called the conference a “great opportunity to talk” to members of the Congressional Black Caucus who “have been really supportive of nuclear energy.”

Lanier Avant, Thompson’s chief of staff, said the goal is to involve a broad group in discussions about policy and economic development. The money raised helps pay for programs, such as a “boot camp” held at Morgan State University in Baltimore for candidates and campaign aides.

“If there is a trade association or a company or labor union that wants to participate, they are welcome,” he said. “If there’s an individual who wants to attend, they are welcome, too.”

USA Today