The Young Eagles have been in the spotlight lately, after it emerged that the RNC picked up the tab for a trip taken by the group to a bondage-themed L.A. club. Other planned events, including a Texas bird hunt, a trip to the Indy 500 , a bull-riding event, and a jaunt to London to hobnob with Tory party leader David Cameron, are now said to be up in the air.
But just who are the Young Eagles? We showed you the Facebook page of the group’s mid-Atlantic director, J. Roby Penn IV, which includes quotes like: “I believe in a purpose driven life… if life’s purpose is backgammon and tennis,” and “If you don’t have an oil well, get one.” And here’s a bit more to fill out the picture of the 29-year old oil-and-gas heir.
Penn is chair of the Penn Trusts and the Penn Foundation, charitable entities associated with his family’s oil company. According to his bio on the company site, he attended New England prep schools before graduating in 2001 from Texas Christian University, and now lives both in Fort Worth, Texas, and in Washington D.C.
Penn, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his work with the Young Eagles, also seems to be a fixture on Washington’s young and moneyed social circuit. A ranked polo player and avid sailor, he “was instrumental in the founding of the Smithsonian YB Polo Cup” while serving on the Smithsonian Museum Young Benefactors Advisory Board, according to the bio.
Penn recently played host at his swank Watergate apartment to a Young Eagles cocktail event, reports one Washington gossip blog (which asks whether the Young Eagles are “bringing sexy back to the GOP” — and that was before the bondage club news came out). You can see pictures of Penn’s lavishly decorated apartment — which also serves as the address for the Penn Foundation and Trusts — here.
Here Penn is listed on the host committee for “Frost Smitten: The Ninth Annual Jete Society Dance Party.” And here he is with his arm around an elegant blonde at the 2008 Corcoran Ball, held at the Corcoran Gallery of Arts.
Perhaps Penn’s lifestyle offers an explanation of sorts for the Young Eagles’ lavish spending. When you’re courting high-rolling donors like these, you’ve got to find ways to compete.