Governor’s ‘no meeting with lobbyists’ policy apparently exempts social gatherings, like her birthday party this week in Manchester.

At least three registered lobbyists attended a birthday party held earlier this week for Gov. M. Jodi Rell at Wickham Park in Manchester: Robinson & Cole’s Charlie Duffy and Keith Stover, along with Patricia LeShane of Sullivan & LeShane. The event doubled as a fundraiser for the Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents, with a $50 suggested donation, Rell spokesman Dennis Schain said. That organization paid for the party, and received about $8,000 from the event, he said.The governor and her chief of staff, M. Lisa Moody, adhere to a policy against meeting with lobbyists. However, critics have pointed to Rell’s friendship with LeShane in recent days, after the governor vetoed a bill that would have severely limited the sale of soft drinks in public schools. LeShane’s firm is Coca-Cola’s leading lobbyist.Schain said the governor simply enjoyed the evening and did not discuss business. “The Governor does not talk business with lobbyists. That is her rule. Period,” he said. “This means she does not schedule meetings with lobbyists in her office and she does not discuss issues with them whether she runs into them at a social function, at Stop & Shop or at CVS.”  Then what’s the point of Rell’s no meeting policy if she socializes with them and allows junior staff to meet with them?Schain reiterated Rell and Moody’s avoidance of talking business with lobbysts, but said staff are permitted in order “to gather information on various issues.”