You may have never heard of Spookstock, but it’s one of the most elite annual charity galas in Washington, DC.
Held for the tight-knit intelligence and military special operations communities, the invitation-only gala is highly secretive and details are tightly guarded. The goal is to raise money to take care of the families of CIA officers and special operations forces killed in the field.
This year’s event happened sometime earlier this year with little fanfare, with about 1,800 people in attendance, according to the New York Post. Grammy-winning rocker Lenny Kravitz was featured as a performer.
— New York Post (@nypost) November 29, 2019
Retired Maj. Gen. Clay Hutmacher, the former director of operations for U.S. Special Operations Command, told the paper that the galas are a “very causal” affair.
“I’ve done my share of formal events and black dress nights. This is a lot more fun,” Hutmacher said. “It’s very casual — if you want to show up in a Def Leppard T-shirt, that’s fine.”
Spookstock has been around for seven years now — the inaugural event featured former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper doing a “Blues Brothers” routine with Dan Aykroyd — and has raised millions for the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
Spookstock board member Mark Kelton said each charity received about $400,000 last year, after expenses.
The CIA foundation focuses exclusively on funding higher education, and the special operations fund helps cover preschool, tutoring, SAT prep, and college visits, as well as full scholarships, according to the Post.
CyberScoop reported earlier this year that ZZ Top, Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, and Harvey Keitel have either attended or performed at past events.
The Spookstock Foundation logo is a play on the Woodstock logo:
“Our mission is very explicit and straightforward: We exist to raise dollars and awareness for surviving dependents of fallen intelligence and operations personnel,” executive director Pack Fancher was quoted saying in the article.
More on the mystique charity event from the Post:
The event is essentially fueled by defense contractors and mainstays of the military-industrial complex that pay big money for a table or a balcony box. Kelton, a retired CIA officer, would only say those corporate boxes are “not cheap.” Other government employees or members of military who secure an invitation pay a much lower, but still undisclosed, rate.
The invitation list and event details are closely guarded by Kelton and the four-member board. Given the clandestine nature of some of the participants’ work life, news coverage and social media postings are avoided. The only real online traces are a smattering of articles, some briefs in intelligence-focused newsletters and a few unauthorized YouTube videos.
In addition to providing financial assistance, Kelton said a goal is to get beneficiaries together.
“The most important part is to get them all together, because most of these kids have gone through this ordeal on their own,” he stressed. “It’s a revelation to them to meet others who went through what they experienced.”
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