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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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MSNBC host Chris Matthews to appear at Spokane fundraiser for Tom Foley institute speaker series

UPDATED: Thu., Aug. 22, 2019

Chris Matthews, the TV personality and former staffer to high-ranking Democrats in Congress, will appear at a fundraiser for the public affairs institute at Washington State University named for the late Tom Foley.

The dinner is scheduled in Spokane on Oct. 5 at the Riverside Place event center in downtown Spokane. The Spokane-born lawmaker, who died in 2013, would have turned 90 this year. Proceeds from the event will go toward the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service expanding its series of lectures and speeches beyond Pullman and into the Spokane metro area, said Cornell Clayton, the institute’s director.

“The purpose of this fundraiser is to have a more regular speaker series in Spokane, and we’re cooperating with the other universities in Spokane,” Clayton said.

The goal is to have a speaker in Spokane monthly during the academic year, Clayton said, to include discussions of national issues such as immigration policy, as well as issues of local concern. Clayton used the example of affordable housing in Spokane.

“We want to bring in people who will educate the public on tough or controversial issues,” Clayton said. “These events will be free and open to everybody.”

The institute’s operational funding comes from an endowment of $3 million bestowed by Congress in 2000 and from WSU. As part of that endowment, the public policy institute is a nonpartisan entity that has operated since 1995.

Matthews, known primarily for his stint hosting the MSNBC program “Hardball” since 1997, agreed to appear at the fundraiser for free, Clayton said, having known Foley from his time as chief of staff to Rep. Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill, who served as Speaker of the House of Representatives before Foley assumed the role from 1989 to 1995.

The dinner’s hosts will be Heather Foley, Tom Foley’s widow, and Spokane Mayor David Condon. Prior to the dinner, the Foley Institute will host a roundtable discussion of Foley’s legacy from three decades in Congress with former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks and veteran Spokesman-Review political reporter Jim Camden. That event will also be at the Riverside Place event center, 1100 W. Riverside Ave., at 3 p.m. That event will be free and open to the public.

Tickets for the dinner will be available soon for $150 on the institute’s website at or by calling (509) 335-3477. Sponsorship opportunities for the speaker series are also available, beginning at $5,000 and escalating to $25,000.

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