Eric Semler wanted to throw his son a Bar Mitzvah bash that he would never forget — capped by a fireworks show near the hedge fund investor's Southampton, N.Y., home — but he needed Rep. Tim Bishop's help.
The fireworks company Semler hired hadn't received government permits needed to put on the display. So on May 21, with the party just five days away, Semler contacted the Democratic congressman and asked for his help.
Bishop agreed to intercede. But before Bishop and his aides completed their work on his behalf, Semler received a request from the congressman's campaign staff, according to documents obtained by POLITICO and multiple interviews: For a contribution of up to $10,000 to Bishop's reelection campaign.