Last month he wrote letters begging the heads of the legislative groups to please stop. Rendell told TIME he hoped to "get the attention" of congressional pooh-bahs to keep them from "overpromising" to donors. But Democratic leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt complained to Gore campaign chairman Tony Coelho, who handpicked Rendell for the DNC post. Within the hour, a Rendell aide personally retrieved the letters and issued an apology. Why so contrite? Because for the first time in memory, the congressional committees have raised more cash than the DNC.
What would you pay to party with Sharon Stone at Spago? Or sit with Bill Clinton as his party names a successor? The bidding begins at $100,000 for premier perks at August's Democratic convention in Los Angeles, marketed as a mosh pit of star power show biz and political. House and Senate campaign committees have already emptied so many deep pockets for VIP packages that party chairman Ed Rendell is scrambling to control what bennies are left.