How Much Booze Will $8,204 Buy? The Chamber Finds Out The Hard Way

Missed spring break this year? Get a job at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Roughly 100 employees of the business association ran up an $8,204 tab this week at The Exchange, a sports bar just blocks away from its prime real estate opposite the White House.

The party was to celebrate the end of the "Chamber Bowl," the association’s internal softball tournament.

It was certainly not a victory for the Chamber's top brass.

Chamber COO David Chavern sent out an email chiding the partiers for their spending spree.

"Fundamentally, this shows a lack of responsibility on a number of people’s part including Chamber personnel and management at The Exchange,” Chavern wrote in an e-mail to more 50 employees, including softball players and top managers. ”I will have to reevaluate a post-Chamber Bowl celebration next year.”

Chavern detailed where the money went: One-hundred-and-fifty-five pitchers of beer, 37 bottles of beer, 208 mixed drinks, 111 shots, 43 margaritas and 11 open bottles of liquor.

Sources who attended the party described it as something akin to a Cancun booze cruise. They reported that drinkers ordered multiple pitchers of vodka and Red Bull and full bottles that they drunkenly left behind at the end of the night.

The Chamber, they said, had set no limits on the open bar.

The bill, attached to Chavern's e-mail, was reportedly several pages long.

Party-goers put some of the blame on the bar, saying that the waiters who served them had – among other things – slapped an 18 percent gratuity on the bill.

While we’re waiting for a response from management at The Exchange, we’ll note that the saloon’s online menu clearly states that an 18 percent tip will be added to checks for parties of six or more -- and that even without any tip, the total tab for the party still would have been almost $7,000.

The Chamber can certainly afford to pick up the check. It has spent more on lobbying than any other association or company over the past decade, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Last year, the Chamber’s lobbying total neared $52.8 million.

But it appears that The Exchange won’t be getting a cut of the Chamber’s budget in the future.

In his e-mail, Chavern asked staffers to contact The Exchange to say that the Chamber will not be patronizing the establishment for the foreseeable future.

Chavern downplayed the flap Thursday night, describing it as a silly internal matter. “It wasn’t a terribly huge amount of money,” he said. “One of the things people in the office do is complain about bills.”

Our only advice: Next year, don't forget your friends at Politico!