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At RNC, 'money is the star of the show'

The Republican National Convention kicks off in Tampa on Aug.

The Republican National Convention kicks off in Tampa on Aug. 27, and it’s shaping up to be the VIP, closed-to-the-press, bundlers-only event of the year for GOPers. Some parts will be open to the public, and the Convention will feature a performance by The Oak Ridge Boys, a salute to David Koch and a pavilion honoring Sheldon Adelson’s wife Miriam. 

On Friday’s The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel Maddow discussed how this Convention will be different than past GOP fests – besides, of course, that this will be the first presidential campaign not to disclose the identities of the bundlers they’re honoring. This year, the hype is all about the donors, not so much the politicians:

“What is striking about this Republican National Convention, as we get more information about what exactly is going to be happening day by day next week, is how high-profile all the Adelson, Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, high-dollar donor stuff is, and how comparatively low-profile the Republican Party is,” Maddow said. She believes the party clearly doesn't want the past to haunt them:

“At the last Republican Convention, when we had a Republican president and a Republican vice president who were deeply disliked in the country, the Republicans were at least able to say that the reason that President Bush and Vice President Cheney couldn’t be there was because of Tropical Storm Gustaf. This year, they’re not counting on Tropical Storm Isaac or anything else to keep the party’s political history away from the RNC. We knew, even before we knew the storm track of Isaac, the storm track of anything, that George W. Bush would not be there. Dick Cheney would not be there. Even the last vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, will not be there.The former Republican president and Republicans with major political accomplishments do not seem to be the stars of this event. The big stuff, the big show-offy stuff, the whole point of the event, the people for whom the really good talent is being saved? It’s the zillionaires. It really is the money that is the star of the show.” 

Maddow also spoke to National Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff, covering the event for NBC News in Tampa. She noted that at these conventions, for both Democrats and Republicans, are always slurries of cash, but asked Isikoff if there’s something different about the scale or highest profile events of this RNC

He said recent changes to the rules have made this “the year of the mega-donor”:

“It is a bit noteworthy because Congress, back in 2007 after the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, imposed new ethics rules that were supposed to put very tight curves on these sorts of events, and in fact, lobbying entities were barred from throwing parties for a member of Congress. But sure enough, clever lawyering and some interesting ethics rulings and interpretations of that have sort of thrown open the bar, so we are basically back where we started. Instead of honoring individual members of Congress, the lobbyists are honoring groups of members of Congress – the Congressional Yacht Caucus, the Oklahoma Delegation…so that’s one sort of way they’re skirting the rules.”

RELATED: Isikoff: Tampa soirees will again blur lines between lobbying, partying