Once again this weekend, top donors to Gov. Corbett will get to travel to a luxury resort a few hours outside of Harrisburg to rub elbows, talk policy and break bread with the governor and his top staff.
The two-day affair, at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort, is being billed as a campaign event, a way for the governor's biggest supporters to rally around him as he prepares to run for reelection next year, even as his approval ratings continue to sag. The governor held a similar event with top donors at the resort last year as well.
And, like last year, the gathering raises the question of whether it gives special interests with deep pockets intimate access to the state's top decision makers. (See story on last summer's Bedford Springs gathering).
Michael Barley, the governor's campaign spokesman, called it "an informal event," although it will feature some well-known speakers, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Barley stressed that no state dollars are being used to underwrite the weekend event. He also noted that it is not a fundraising event.
Like last year, attendees - including the members of Corbett's administration - will pick up the tab for their own stay. Corbett's expenses will be paid for by the campaign.
"Those folks are there on their own time and own dollar," he said.
As he heads into his 2014 reelection bid, Corbett finds himself facing lackluster public support in independent polls, even as he struggles to restructure his senior staff following the collapse of his major agenda items last month in the Republican-controlled legislature.
About a half-dozen Democrats are planning to seek the party nomination to challenge Corbett.
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