Donors left at al­tar for Clin­ton wed­ding

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Ashley Parker

So, just what does it take to score an in­vi­ta­tion to the hottest — not to men­tion most se­cre­tive — po­lit­i­cal wed­ding of the sum­mer?

More than a cross-coun­try ride on a pri­vate jet, ap­par­ently.

“I’m good enough to bor­row a plane from, but not good enough to be in­vited to the wed­ding?” com­plained one Clin­ton friend, who re­mem­bered the times he handed over his jet and his pi­lot to take Bill Clin­ton around the coun­try but who had not landed a cov­eted in­vi­ta­tion to Chelsea Clin­ton’s up­com­ing nup­tials.

Next Satur­day, Clin­ton, 30, and her fi­ance, Marc Mezvin­sky, 32, are ex­pected to marry in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where they will make their young ro­mance of­fi­cial. But not ev­ery­one these days is feel­ing the love.

While most friends and ac­quain­tances of the for­mer pres­i­dent and Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton say they un­der­stand that the wed­ding is a pri­vate af­fair of only 400 or so guests, all with a di­rect con­nec­tion to the bride or bride­groom, some are pri­vately grum­bling about just who made the cut. And the af­fair has left donors, sup­port­ers, aides and even true A-lis­ters won­der­ing just how in­side the in­ner cir­cle they re­ally are.

“Would peo­ple who said they were close to the Clin­tons and not in­vited feel bad? Sure,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant who worked on Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial re-elec­tion in 1996 (and who, for the record, wasn’t in­vited). But with the hind­sight of 30 years in pol­i­tics, he added: “It is dan­ger­ous to pre­sume close­ness to peo­ple in power, and it is very rare when there are real, un­break­able friend­ships.”

Sheinkopf stressed that the Clin­tons have al­ways done a good job of guard­ing their daugh­ter’s pri­vacy.

“This is not an­other meet­ing of power for those who want to get close to the for­mer pres­i­dent to fig­ure out what they can get out of him, or the sec­re­tary of state,” he said.

“Ei­ther you are a friend or you’re not, and friends are de­fined at dif­fer­ent lev­els,” he added. “Any­one who knows the Clin­tons knows that lob­by­ing will do no good.”

But that has not stopped some peo­ple from try­ing, es­pe­cially po­lit­i­cal sup­port­ers and fundrais­ers with a sense of en­ti­tle­ment born from years of bundling checks.

“I’m sure there are some peo­ple who are lob­by­ing dis­creetly,” said some­one who has known the Clin­tons for decades. “If they’re on the list, they will bal­ly­hoo it qui­etly, and if they’re not on the list, their noses will be out of joint. I know some peo­ple whose noses are out of joint.” (Like most FOBs — Friends of Bill — the per­son did not want to be quoted by name, swear­ing by the wed­ding’s code of si­lence.)

“You know, when I heard about it, I was hop­ing to be in­vited,” said John Cat­si­ma­tidis, who owns the Red Ap­ple Group and Grist­edes Foods su­per­mar­kets and has raised sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars for the Clin­tons. “But when it’s only two weeks from the wed­ding and you don’t get an in­vi­ta­tion, you know you’re not in­vited.”

Af­ter try­ing to play the Washington par­lor game of the moment — “Was Alan Pa­tri­cof in­vited?” he asked, re­fer­ring to a fel­low ar­dent Clin­ton sup­porter — Cat­si­ma­tidis played the game’s sec­ond stage: ra­tion­al­iza­tion. He said he did not feel too bad be­cause “it’s a small af­fair, and it’s Chelsea’s friends.”

And that has be­come the mantra for the un­in­vited: It’s no big­gie.

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘hard feel­ings,’” Cat­si­ma­tidis said. “I’d use the word ‘maybe a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed,’ but not ‘hard feel­ings.’”

Bruce Buck

The As­tor Courts es­tate in Rhinebeck, N.Y., is the ex­pected the site next week­end for Chelsea Clin­ton’s wed­ding to Marc Mezvin­sky, but those in the know on the nup­tials’ de­tails are mostly mum.

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