A fundraising event for conservative Republicans quietly took place this fall at publisher and real estate magnate Douglas Manchester's well-appointed Grand del Mar resort in the northern reaches of San Diego.
Details of the exclusive political klatch and how much it cost to attend comes via disclosures filed by two GOP House members who flew out to attend the meeting, staged here during the second weekend of November by the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, which picked up their tabs.
According to Heritage's website, "Several of the country’s top conservative lawmakers, policy experts, and pollsters joined Heritage Foundation members for our Annual Leadership Conference in San Diego, CA.
"Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Scott Walker, and New York Times Best-Seller Scott Rasmussen spoke about reconnecting with America and the conservative plan to set the country back on track."
Oklahoma congressman James F. Bridenstine got $1537 in free transportation, lodging valued at $370, and meals worth $251, his House filing said.
The purpose of the trip, according to Bridenstine's disclosure was for "Speaking to the conference about happenings, and the current culture in Congress. Audience includes constituents and others interested in developments impacting American economy and society."
As to why Bridenstine in particular merited the freebie, the foundation's filing reads, "Congressman Marlin Stutzman [and] Congressman Jim Bridenstine both are rising stars in the House fighting for shared principles. Both were invited to participate on panels."
Indiana’s Stutzman, also in attendance, reported getting $569 in free transportation, along with the $370 of gratis lodging and $130 worth of food and drink.
The disclosure added, "The Heritage Foundation has planned and organized this event as a cultivation opportunity for members. We are hoping to give them insight into the work our organization is doing and educate them on policies and the changing culture in Washington."
In its invitation to Bridenstine, the foundation said, "We expect to have 200 guests in attendance. I know that if you can attend, your participation will be a highlight of the conference.”
Both Stutzman and Bridenstine were key players in last year's government shutdown over Barack Obama's health-insurance program, otherwise known as Obamacare.
Explaining why the Manchester Grand del Mar was selected for the conference, Heritage wrote that it was because the venue offered "many activities" for its "high level donors...to participate in."
Besides speeches, Friday’s "optional activity" included a tennis tournament, "Golf Scramble at the Grand Golf Club," "The Grand Culinary Demonstration," and "Painting Class and Cocktails."
A speech by former GOP senator Jim DeMint, now Heritage Foundation president, followed an evening dinner. He has been a key political ally of the billionaire Koch brothers of Wichita.
Stutzman checked a box to indicate he is allergic to seafood.
The House ethics committee warned both congressmen that they had not submitted their travel plans for review early enough, but allowed them to attend anyway.
Committee travel regulations require that, for any trip leaving on or after April 1, 2013, you submit your complete pre-trip approval request to the Committee at least 30 days before the commencement of the trip or it will not be granted.
Despite your failure to do so in this instance, given the newness of the rule, we are approving your current request. However, any future requests should adhere to the 30-day requirement."