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Documenting the Political Partying Circuit
From the early hours of the morning until late in the evening, politicians are partying. Sunlight's PARTY TIME can help you find out who is partying, where and when.


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Rubio returns with reception for the ages

After bowing out of the presidential race, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for the looming Florida senate race against Rep. Pat Murphy, D-Fla. He’s begun the fundraising circuit with his new allies: the Pork and Pancake PACs.

Marco Rubio entering stage

Marco Rubio held at least 50 fundraisers during his presidential bid – falling in between Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush.

Last year Rubio converted his Senate campaign committee into his presidential campaign, beginning his presidential run with millions of dollars of cash on hand. He recently converted his presidential campaign committee back to his Marco Rubio for Senate 2016 committee. The Florida senator currently has a little over $2 million cash on hand, but will need to raise much more to compete against Patrick Murphy.

His first fundraiser supporting his Senate re-election came on June 26th in Coral Gables, Fla. But his most recent fundraiser in D.C. is one of the most prolific Senate fundraisers we’ve seen in recent memory.

The evening event featured 28 senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn. Sponsor levels ran up to $5,000 for PACs and $2,500 for individuals. The reception featured 67 hosts and sponsors were on the bill, including 32 PACs.

Some of the notable sponsors include the following:

AT&T – who has hosted over 75 congressional fundraisers
Bloomin’ Brands – which owns Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fleming’s Steakhouse and Outback Steakhouse
Hotel PAC
Liberty Mutual
NFL – GridIron PAC
Pancake PAC
Pork PAC
SeaWorld PAC
Taco PAC
U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC
U.S. Chamber PAC

Rubio needs to raise significantly more resources than his current war chest if he expects to compete come November. But when Taco PAC has your back, you can’t really lose.

Marco Rubio. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)


Wild Wednesday of fundraising feat. Bon Jovi, Billie Jean King, the Washington Capitals and more

While we trot to the office and lethargically work after surviving the #blizzard2016, our lawmakers are out raising money. (Fundraising does not hibernate.) In one of the craziest days of the 2016 campaign trail, here are some of the most notable fundraisers happening on Jan. 27th.

Was the snowstorm to kickoff the year not enough for you? For even more ice, join Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., for an evening of hockey, Philly style. It’s at Washington’s Verizon Center, but instead of rooting for the Capitals, your $2,000 ticket probably requires you to cheer for the Flyers. Go sports!

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will attend a gala tonight in Philadelphia, joined by Franklin Square Capital Partners Executive Michael C. Forman and state Rep. Michael Gerber, D. But is the former secretary of state still the frontrunner or is she Livin’ on a Prayer? She constantly tells voters I’ll Be There for You and she will Never Say Goodbye. While her poll standings are certainly not on a Bed of Roses, she just wants her donors to Have a Nice Day.

If you haven’t guessed it, her special guest tonight is none other than Jon Bon Jovi. Enjoy his acoustic set for $1,000 and become a host with a photo op for folks who bundle $27,000.

Presidential candidate Chris Christie is in the Windy City for a fundraiser with Dan Webb of Winston & Strawn and local CEOs Gregg Sherrill of Teneco and Greg Brown of Motorola Solutions. Dan Webb previously donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, but he promises his vote to the New Jersey governor.

Chelsea Clinton is busting her supporters into shape at SoulCycle this afternoon in the NYC neighborhood of Tribeca. Joined by famed instructor Laurie Cole, Chelsea wants you to be part of her “pack” and reserve a bike for $2,700.

She may have won the Battle of the Sexes, but Billie Jean King is still fighting – for Hillary, that is. The tennis superstar and Hillary campaign manager Robby Mook will host an LGBT reception in New York City tonight.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is out to lunch at one of D.C.’s hottest Indian restaurants, Rasika. Those who want to splurge can host for $5,000, or you can simply dine with the senator for $500. Additionally, those who just want to go for Restaurant Week in D.C. can pay $478 less for a three-course lunch. (Sunlight gives this spot 10/10).

And finally, House Speaker Paul Ryan is fundraising in Chicago tonight with the largest entourages so far this year. Sure, you can attend the reception for just $1,000, but the speaker wants you to go all out and donate at least $50,000 to be a Council Member on Team Ryan. Congressmen in attendance include GOP reps Greg Walden, Ore., Adam Kinziger, Ill., Mike Bost, Ill., Randy Hultgren, Ill., Rodney Davis, Iowa, Darin Lahood, Ill., John Shimkus, Ill., Bob Dold, Ill., and Peter Roskam, Ill..

For a look into the rest of this week’s parties and beyond, check out our calendar of events here. Party On!


And then there were 3: The latest fundraising activity from 2016 Democratic hopefuls

There’s still more than 10 major GOP candidates left running for president; that must be music to the ears of the Democratic 2016 contenders. But they also make their own! One can serenade you with timeless ballads, one enjoys being sung to by a different voice and another enjoys the 1960’s garage-rock revival endorsement.

Hillary Clinton travels so much you’d think her pantsuits enable time travel. Frequently touring multiple states a day, the Democratic frontrunner racks up the most miles by far. While she leads the congressional endorsement race, HRC fares well in celebrity endorsements too. With a little help from her friends, (Christina Aguilera, Michelle Kwan and Katy Perry) she boasts the most star-studded entourage in the field. Clinton recently celebrated her 68th birthday in style with her husband, Bill Clinton.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the only candidate without a super PAC, prefers big turnouts to big donors. While his grassroots support is historic, Bernie “Larry David” Sanders was centerstage at Oklahoma City’s Blue Door arena. For only $20, patrons could Feel The Bern and almost a dozen musical acts.

Martin O’Malley plays a mean guitar, and he may have sang a few Irish hymns at The Dubliner this week. O’Malley is courting younger voters by offering student admission for just $20. The former Maryland governor also hosted a Civic Innovation Pitch Contest where students could enter for just $25.

For an update on the GOP field, check out our previous post here.

As the 2016 campaign continues, we’ll strive to build the most comprehensive database for the presidential fundraising circuit. Please share any invitations you find by anonymously uploading or emailing them to us here.

(Photo credit: Joe Crimmings/Flickr)


PT Round-up: Clintons, Obamas come out for Democratic Senate candidates, Michelle Nunn parties with Usher, and a birthday fundraiser for Gov. Chris Christie

Party people, for months now we’ve been anticipating a fall season bursting at the seams with political fundraisers. And here we are, in the second full week of September, with a jam-packed social calendar.

This week, D.C.-based partying is back in full swing after the traditional emptying out of Capitol Hill during August, which saw plenty of on-the-road fundraising. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., is one politician taking advantage of D.C.’s summertime-in-September weather, throwing a fundraiser at Nationals Park during Tuesday night’s Nats-Braves matchup. It’s a popular party spot, but usually it’s to watch your home team take on the Nats (since Schneider represents Chicago’s northern ‘burbs, we’re assuming he’s a Cubs fan). But, hey, a politician’s got to do what a politician’s got to do, and if that means having a fundraiser during a baseball game when your team’s not playing, then so be it.

Although Party Time’s schedule is super full, we are sure there’s more going on out there. What have you heard about, and what invites have come across your desk? You know what to do! Upload official invites right here, or email us any news tips.

And with that, get ready for a busy week in political partying!

Dems are partying hard. Like, really, really hard.
Democrats and Republicans are in the midst of a fight to the death for control of the Senate. Seriously. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently called his race against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes a “slugfest” and a “knife fight” during a fundraiser in southeastern Kentucky.

While candidates are using “control of the Senate” to rally support around their individual campaigns (at that same fundraiser, McConnell told those gathered: “This is the biggest race in the country. And the consequences are enormous.”), national-level party committees also employ the refrain to ply mega donors for mega bucks. To wit: This week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee – in charge of keeping the Senate blue – is throwing six pricey parties.

Dems have been rather adept this year at deploying unpopular-yet-moneymaking politicos (ahem, President Obama) to collect cash, and this week’s swath of fundraisers continues the trend. Tuesday evening’s annual fall reception at the National Museum of Women in the Arts features DSCC Chair Michael Bennet, D-Colo.,  and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.,  always a popular target for Republicans. Tickets start at $1,000 and climb to $32,400. And on Friday, expect a similarly priced event in Baltimore, where the partier-in-chief himself headlines a fundraiser. (Details on President Obama’s party are scarce, so let us know if you’ve heard about what’s doing in Charm City.)

Hillary Clinton makes her fall fundraising debut this week, hosting a DSCC reception and dinner – tickets go for $10,000 per person, or $32,400 per couple – at her Northwest D.C. home. Between her summertime book tour and various speaking gigs, not to mention the continual will-she-won’t-she-in-2016 storyline, Clinton keeps grabbing headlines. But Party Time counts this as her first step into purely political territory since May, when she headlined a fundraiser for Marjorie Margolies (mother-in-law to one Chelsea Clinton, not-so-incidentally), who ultimately lost her bid to return to Congress. State Rep. Brendan Boyle defeated Margolies in the Democratic primary for an open seat in Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District.

Tuesday’s event is the first of two fundraisers this week for Clinton. On Sunday, she and hubby Bill will touch down in Iowa to co-headline Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual Steak Fry. As the site of the first-in-the-nation caucuses, the Hawkeye State visit has political prognosticators buzzing more than usual about her possible White House run. Ready for Hillary, the super PAC that’s collecting cash and solidifying support for a possible H. Clinton presidential candidacy, even cooked up a fundraiser raffle for supporters to win a trip to the Steak Fry.

And two more fundraisers fill out the week for the DSCC’s fundraising frenzy: On Wednesday, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper will host a lunch in D.C., and come Friday, party faithful will gather in swanky Kiawah, S.C., for a weekend-long fall retreat.

Famous faces come out for Michelle Nunn
In Georgia’s tight Senate race, Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn benefits greatly from name recognition. Her father, former Sen. Sam Nunn, continues to be a popular political figure in her home state after serving in the Senate for more than 30 years.

But a recent article questioned whether or not the Nunn name provides much of a boost among African Americans or younger voters, key constituencies for Democratic candidates. Fortunately for the Nunn camp, some very well-known people with names that just about everyone can recognize are throwing fundraisers this week for the campaign.

First up is first lady Michelle Obama, who is headlining a roundtable fundraiser Monday afternoon in Atlanta. The event benefits Nunn and the DSCC, and marks Obama’s first foray into fundraising since the end of July. Then, on Saturday, former President Bill Clinton throws a funder at the Atlanta home of Usher. Is everyone else counting on a Clinton-on-the-saxophone version of “Yeah!”? Thought so.

Cash for Comstock
Before she became a member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, Barbara Comstock was a go-to researcher and political consultant within Republican circles for years, working on former President George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000 and on Mitt Romney’s run in 2012. Now, as she competes for Virginia’s 10th District House seat, Comstock is getting help from some long-ago cultivated friendships.

On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., headlines a reunion event in D.C., which will feature other top aides from the 2012 campaign. Comstock’s team is also raffling off two tickets and a photo with Ryan, asking supporters to throw down anywhere from $25 to $2,600 for a chance to meet the former VP candidate and current chair of the House Budget Committee.

The next day, Comstock throws another fundraiser, this one at the Middleburg, Va., home of Kristi and Vito Germinario. Former Virginia Sen. John Warner and Rep. Frank Wolf, whose upcoming retirement opened up the 10th District seat, are slated to attend Wednesday’s event.

Happy birthday, Mr. Governor
Politicians will use anything for a fundraiser gimmick. And why not? If you are planning to celebrate a wedding anniversary or the coming of summer anyway, why not tack on a little fundraising for good measure?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a one-man fundraising machine for the Republican Governors Association, is joining in on the tradition and marking his birthday (which actually fell on Sept. 6) with a fundraiser for the New Jersey Republican State Committee. Christie will celebrate the big 5-2 with his right-hand man, Bill Palatucci, and Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, turned presidential candidate, turned big-time GOP surrogate in 2014.

While $150 will get you into the general reception, it’ll cost you $5,000 to attend the private reception or $25,000 to attend the roundtable. And if that doesn’t entice you to bust out the checkbook, the birthday balloons on the invite should do the trick.

And those are the week’s highlights, party animals! What are we missing, and what have you heard about? Upload invites right here or email us whatever you’ve got.

Photo courtesy Flickr


Government teeters on the verge of shutdown, but the fundraising must go on

Updated 10/1 at 2:43 PM

A government shutdown would sabotage the country’s economic growth, put 800,000 federal workers on furlough and further damage Congress’ standing in the eyes of their electorate at a time when approval of the legislative branch is already at an all time low. However, PT records prove that there’s one thing a shutdown would not stop:

Congressional fundraising.

‘The show must go on’ appears to be the motto for members of Congress in the days following post-midnight, when government services will start to wind down should Congress be unable to reach a budget deal. Party Time data reveals that at least seven different members have planned fundraising bashes that will occur on, or directly after, the potential shutdown.

And something tells us there’s more. Let us know (anonymously) here.

Reps. Gene Green, D-Texas, along with Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, and Lois Capps, D-Calif. all have funders scheduled for Tuesday, the very day the shutdown would go into effect.

**Update: Chabot’s fundraiser has been canceled according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Chabot’s offers PACs and other individuals a chance to enjoy a “taste of Cincinnati” with the entire Ohio Republican delegation. Truth in advertising compels us to caution that contributors may be robbed of the presence of the delegation’s top dog: Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The Republican leader already had a fundraising retreat fall victim to budget negotiations (see below for more details), and will likely still have his hands full parlaying with Dems — not to mention his own caucus members — come Tuesday.

***Update: Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., has postponed her “Autumn Reception” scheduled to take place at the Erickson & Co. Townhouse.

Other fetes on the social docket include a $500 and up reception for longtime Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. — which will feature a bevy of the New Yorker’s congressional allies — as the 83-year-old New Yorker raises money for a race in which he does not yet have a challenger.

For those seeking a nice capstone for your weekly social calendar, Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark. has his Second Annual Trout Fishing retreat scheduled for this weekend. For $2,500 you too can join the senator at Gaston’s White River Resort in Lakeview, Ark., for a weekend of fishing tackle and trout filets — what better way to unwind from a hectic week of closing up Uncle Sam’s shop?

And then there’s what you might call the shutdown profiteers:

Healthcare ire means big bucks for pols’ campaign coffers

**Update: Roe’s fundraiser has been canceled according to a source at the Huffington Post. The never-ending debate over health care that’s causing the potential shutdown may be threatening the paydays of government workers, but, hey it’s turning out to be a money-making opportunity for some of our enterprising pols. For instance, Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., is hoping to capitalize on the furor over “Obamacare” with a Thursday fundraising breakfast.

Party Time has obtained an invitation for the bash, which will benefit the Healthcare Freedom Fund –Roe’s “new” leadership PAC, established “to help elect federal candidates seeking office to add to the debate here in Congress to establish healthcare freedom and reform,” according to the invite. The term “new” may be a stretch, as FEC filings show that HFF first registered in Sept. 2012.

The veteran and former doctor is asking for contributions from $250 to $1,000 for attendees of the party, which also features Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.

Not to be left out of the Obamacare bashing, the Koch brothers-led Americans for Prosperity — a conservative dark money group — is using the bill to stir up support for a three-pronged canvassing session just outside of the beltway in Northern Virginia. A recent e-mail from the group urges supporters to join a door-to-door canvassing effort aimed at upending healthcare overhaul, Medicaid expansion and, not so coincidentally, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee in next month’s Virginia governor’s election.

In a fundraising countermove, Organizing for America — President Obama’s own dark money operation — sent out a similar e-mail asking for funds and urging supporters to “[pick] up a phone, [get] the facts out to friends on social media, or [show] up at your local congressional office.” Of course, clicking the helpful the link to “Add your voice” directs you to a web page asking for contributions from $15 to $1,000.

To check out the e-mails for yourself, head on over to PT’s own Tumblr. Of course, if any of our friends in the party-sphere catch wind of other Obamacare-themed fundraising efforts, do us a solid and send ‘em this way.

All work and no play

Obviously, not everyone is able to raise dough off Congress’ healthcare shenanigans.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio – the man of a thousand fundraisers — had to postpone a high-dollar retreat scheduled to take place last weekend at a posh resort in northern Virginia.

As reported by the Washington Examiner, the House Republican leader will reschedule the kickoff event for his “Capitol Program” — a fundraising campaign aimed at pulling contributions of $10,000 or more from major DC donors.

Bringing donors on a retreat is a common tactic of politicians seeking to squeeze a little more scratch out of supporters than they could at a regular, humdrum breakfast reception near Capitol Hill. The increased access that comes from spending multiple days with a member can be appealing to lobbyists and other deep-pocketed donors hoping to make their issues heard with the relevant party.

Peter, Paul and Martha

Beyonce, The Eagles and Justin Bieber are just some of the pop music superstars that have been graced by the presence of congressional funders in the past.

It appears that Democratic congressional hopeful Martha Robertson is aiming for an older, more nostalgic cadre of contributors. On Monday, the New York Dem will raise money with an exclusive performance from folk music legend Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. Yarrow is perhaps best-known for penning the whimsical 60’s hit: “Puff, the Magic Dragon.” The Robertson campaign is charging $250 to $1,000 for the event.

Unfortunately for Robertson, media interest in the event has not centered on the musical stylings of Yarrow, but rather his past conviction as a sex offender — Yarrow pleaded guilty to “taking indecent liberties with a child” in 1970. State and national GOP reps have harped on the Yarrow appearance, pressuring Robertson to disinvite the singer from the event.

The event was still on as of press time.

A giant in Hoboken

With the NFL season in full swing, the New York Giants are still in search of their elusive first win, and the offense in particular has come under fire for its poor performance in the first three games of the season.

Maybe that’s why the quarterback, Eli Manning, is testing out the political fundraising game.

The younger Manning brother will appear Monday at a benefit for Hoboken, N.J. Mayor Dawn Zimmer, where the entertainment will be — what else? — watching a football game: the 8:40 p.m. tilt between the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints.

Suggested contributions range from $500 to $1,500. While that might sound like a bit of a hefty price tag for a trip to the local sports bar, how often do you get to show off your football IQ with a real-life professional player?

An NC Insurance Commissioner in NYC?

A midtown New York City fundraiser charging contributors donors thousands for a little more than an hour of face time with a pol? It sounds like a classic Big Apple funder for a Senate or House bigwig. Not in this instance.

On Wednesday, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin will join insurance executives at a reception at Tavern 29.  For $4,000, you have the chance to join the exclusive ranks of Goodwin’s Platinum Sponsors, though it’s anyone’s best guess what that distinction will earn you.

Insurance commissioners may be an increasingly hot commodity as insurance corporations explore ways to profit from the federally-mandated state exchanges that come with the Affordable Care Act. If it ever gets funded, that is.

Till next week, partiers! Remember: government or no government, the fundraisers must go on!!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Cigars, sushi and shooting: raising money the Washington way

Too many evening fundraisers filled with hors d’oeuvres and quiet conversation can get a little tiresome for a young, hip political donor. Thankfully, members are always coming up with innovative new events to help rake in the cash for their campaign war chests.

With the launch of Party Time’s excellent new Tumblr, we have been vigorously searching for zany new fundraising events — and our party-hearty politicians have happily obliged.

While this week’s social calendar features a plethora of picturesque funding fiestas — from a cigars and spirits reception, to an evening with pop star or a funder on the shooting range — one unhappy Florida lawmaker has provided us with a crash course in how not to party.

Scott sings the blues

Gov. Rick Scott’s fundraising woes began with news that the Florida governor had postponed the execution of an inmate on the Sunshine State’s death row. The reason? The timing conflicted with a fundraiser in honor of Attorney General Pam Bondi.  Remember folks, sometimes even the biggest party animals need to take some off.

On top of Scott’s sticky death row situation, the governor recently found himself the center of another fundraising controversy over the procurement of hunting licenses for potential donors.

Perhaps copying a page out of the playbook of Sen. David Vitter,R-La., Scott’s reelection campaign had planned a $25, 000-a-head ‘gator hunt.’ Unfortunately, alligator hunting permits are a hot commodity for hunters in the Florida swamps. The state awards its scarce number of licenses each year through a lottery system — prompting questions of how the adequate number of gator licenses were acquired for the funder.

Though Scott has since cancelled the hunt, if Sen. Vitter’s facebook is any indication, there’s nothing like a good day in the swamps for scaring up some campaign cash.

Rubio back on the hunt

The end of summer means the reappearance of familiar faces on the Washington money trail, and few are more aggressive in stocking the ole war chest than prospective 2016-ers.

As reported by Politico, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. expects to raise hundreds of thousands at his Wednesday shindig in downtown Washington. The reception will take place at Hill Country BBQ and features a bevy of high profile Republican lobbyists on its host committee.

Suggested contributions range from $1,000 to $10,000 and will benefit Rubio’s Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee benefiting both the Marco Rubio for Senate committee and Reclaim America PAC — Rubio’s leadership committee.

Strong fundraising numbers can serve a number of purposes for savvy politicians: If Rubio should pass on a 2016 White House bid, an overflowing campaign war chest could discourage presumptive challengers from entering a battle over his Senate seat. Additionally, as House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has shown, aiding other party members with a little cash can go a long way towards preserving one’s good standing among caucus compatriots.

Stogies and Spirits

If throwing down a few thousand for a barbecue sandwich doesn’t tickle your fancy, consider stopping by a high-class Cigar and Spirits reception honoring Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla.

While everyone knows that nothing kills the mood of a good par-tay like running out of booze, rest assured that Garcia’s reception will be well-stocked, as it is hosted by none other than the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers’ Association and the Distilled Spirits Council. While this is the Cigar & Pipe retailers’ first appearance in PT’s archives, the Distilled Spirits Council clearly prefers to share a cold one with Dems.

If you can’t make it, or just can’t get enough of the Florida congressman, fear not: Garcia will be holding another bash this Friday at the Erickson & Co. Townhouse.

Lundergan Grimes, ready for prime time?

While the next election for Kentucky’s Senate seat is not until November of next year, the three way race to fill the seat of Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is already in high gear with astronomical spending and bizarre attack ads.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes recently gained two new feathers in her campaign cap with the news of two upcoming fundraisers featuring A-list invitees.

This Friday the Bluegrass state will receive a visit from pop star of the Black Eyed Peas, appearing on Lundergan Grimes’ behalf at a private residence. Contributions run the gamut from $100 to $2,600.

In mid October, Lundergan Grimes will make the journey to Las Vegas to party with a political star — none other than Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.


Apparently undeterred by his weak showing in polls for the New Jersey Senate race, Steve Lonegan aims to fire up his base this weekend with a little trip to the shooting range.

That’s right, a political fundraiser where you get to blast away with a variety of different firearms — all while supporting New Jersey’s Republican candidate for Senate.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, the event offers different firing experiences for different levels of support. $40 will buy a contributor the chance to shoot 20 rounds from a “Savage 10.P 308,” while a $125 contribution will give you the chance to fire five rounds from the Barret M107 .50BMG.

Of course, no firearms fundraiser would be complete without a chance to try one of the event’s two “mystery rifles.”

As always, if you catch wind of other fundraisers, share them here. Party Time out.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


Political stars Wendy Davis and Chris Christie shake the money tree

If there was anyone still questioning whether Newark Mayor Cory Booker has the mass appeal, or connections, to pull off a successful cross-country fundraising campaign, last Tuesday’s FEC campaign filings surely silenced them. Campaign finance data and Party Time records show that the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate (and all-around “rock star” of the progressive movement) has benefited handsomely from his connections to celebrities and high-profile pols.

Michael Bloomberg held a fundraiser for Booker, seen at right, on July 15 in his Manhattan home, and the Brick City mayor visited the DC on July 18 to rake in the dough with the K Street crowd. He will return to the Big Apple Wednesday for a reception in his honor at the home of Ivanka Trump, and still has a soirée with TV mogul Oprah Winfrey left on his docket. Such cross-country trekking must be exhausting, but it has paid dividends.

As reported by the Washington Post, Booker amassed $4.6 million from April to June alone, with 70% of all contributions coming from individuals outside of New Jersey. On top of his domination of the ‘money primary.’ the mayor also enjoys a commanding lead in the polls heading into the Aug. 13 primary. The Oct. 16 special election was called by Gov. Chris Christie, R, to fill the seat of deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

Unfortunately not all of our representatives can cash in on celebrity. We at PT send our sympathies to those politicians slogging through the never-ending circuit of bagel breakfasts and Tortilla Coast receptions; keep on keepin’ on you guys.

Here’s what’s happening this week on the political party scene — which this week, features a few other rising political stars:

“I’ll not yield”

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, D, has become a hot commodity following her 12-hour marathon filibuster of a Texas abortion bill, and upcoming fundraising events in Washington could indicate the new star of the pro-choice movement is testing the waters for support for a run for the Texas governor’s office.

She is enjoying a huge spike in contributions following her June demonstration. As reported by the Texas Tribune, Davis raised nearly $1 million in the two weeks immediately following the filibuster. She will be holding two events in the District this Thursday, a breakfast at Capitol Hill eatery Johnny’s Half Shell with a suggested contribution of $500, and a more economical happy hour starting at $25.

The morning fundraiser features a whopping eight U.S. senators, suggesting the state representative could count on some high-profile support should she take the plunge and run for governor in 2014.

Christie shakes the trees

As reported by the Star-Ledger, the New Jersey governor is making an aggressive push to stock his campaign coffers in advance of his bid for re-election this November. While his fundraising has greatly outpaced that of his challenger, New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono, the popular Republican shows no signs of slowing down. Does he have another race in mind?

Christie will traverse the country for three different events in this week alone. On Tuesday, he visits the West Coast for a private par-TAY in his honor, after which he will jet set back to Pittsburgh for a fundraiser at the posh Duquesne Club. His week concludes in his home state with a private event in New Vernon, Morris County, but he will be back on the trail August 1 for a shindig in Las Vegas. As reporter Jenna Portnoy points out, this seems to contradict his 2011 affirmation that “[t]here is no reason people should go to Las Vegas in the summer.” Except, of course, cold, hard political cash.

Chris! Don’t you like us? PT has looked high and low but somehow our invitations to all these swell events seem to have been lost in the email. So c’mon partiers: share. We’ll love you more than Christie loves his governor fleece.

Life in the cash lane

While partisan divide has reached near-toxic levels in Congress, you can take comfort in the knowledge that all Americans are still united in their need to rawk.

Indeed, if an evening spent jamming out to the tunes of a 42-year-old Americana band and a Republican senator from South Dakota sounds like your cup o’ tea then head down to the Verizon Center Monday where you can enjoy the festivities with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. All proceeds will benefit Thune’s Heartland Values PAC.

While Eagles’ concerts may not be as popular among fundraising politicians as Bruce Springsteen’s, members of the American super group can count at least two other members of Congress in their fan club:

In da’ club

On Tuesday Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., will attend a fundraiser at the National Democratic Club townhouse hosted by Matt Brown, Geoff Werth and the US Oncology Network PAC. According to data compiled by Project Vote Smart, the congressman has earned a 100% rating from both the National Breast Cancer Coalition and the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

PT records show that the Oncology Network PAC has a left-of-center tilt in its fundraising efforts, generally hosting such events for Democratic members, although the group has partied alongside Rep. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Suggested contributions for the party range from $1,000 to $5,000 for PAC guests and $250 for regular attendees.

Inouye family backs Hanabusa

The passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii did not mean the end of his family’s involvement in the the Aloha State’s political scene.

On Wednesday Inouye’s widow and son will host a morning event in support of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, who is running in the 2014 special election to fill Inouye’s term. Sen. Inouye personally recommended that Hanabusa replace him in a letter written before his death, but in a surprise move Gov. Neil Abercrombie chose Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz instead. He and Hanabusa are vying for the Democratic nomination in next year’s special election.

Hanabusa has been collecting cash, and endorsements, for the 2014 showdown. Besides the Inouye family, she can count the powerful pro-choice group EMILY’s List among her backers and it is co-hosting the reception.

While $1,000-$5,000 may sound like a lot for coffee and small talk, just remember that Early Money is Like Yeast. That is to say, it raises dough.

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons)


PT Round-up: checks, shrugs, and rock ‘n’ roll

It was a contentious week both on and off the Hill, my party compatriots. Are we in for another?

While Congress’ upper chamber teeters on the edge of “nuclear” combat, the news that prominent climate change denier and senior Republican senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe was holding a lunch funder at Google’s Washington headquarters was met with shock, indignation and petitions by various liberal leaners in the green movement.

Elsewhere on the fundraising scene, former DNC Chairman and current Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is showing off some serious star power as he makes his rounds of the party circuit. A review of McAuliffe fundraisers reads like a who’s who of Democratic politics. Notable attendees include: the first lady, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and Bill Clinton, who, as of July 11, has already appeared at three such events for the would-be governor.

McAuliffe has longstanding ties to the Clinton clan, and in his past life as a Democratic booster he raised around $275 million for the former president. His steadfast allegiance appears to be paying dividends. In addition to lending his name to McAuliffe’s events, Bill contributed $100,000 to McAuliffe’s bid in the perennially purple state.

While the fundraising season has yet to reach its peak, rest assured that this week brings us a plethora of fun new activities to enjoy with our elected officials. Here’s what’s happening:


Start your week off with some time on the links with Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc. The Tuesday golf outing and reception will take place at the scenic Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport, Calif. and will benefit the Republican Governors’ Association. Suggested contributions for entry to the all-day affair range from $2,500 to $25,000. While that may strike some partiers as a tad on the pricey side for a golf outing, I must remind you that the contribution includes breakfast, a “shotgun tournament” AND a post-golf reception.

If gettin’ your schmooze on with a cheesehead governor in Southern California while supporting the RGA sounds like your bag, then this event could be perfect for you. Just remember not to mention anything about unions.

Bam! It’s a PAC!

If partying with the Democrats is more to your liking, be sure to stop by Bistro Bis on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The ever-popular Capitol Hill eatery will serve as the backdrop of a reception and dinner benefiting BAMPAC, the leadership committee of  Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

Apparently when she’s not presiding over committee hearings, fielding Twitter criticism, or doing both simultaneously, the senior senator from the Old Line State delights in la gastronomie française. The July 16 fundraiser will be Mikulski’s 11th Bistro Bis fundraiser in Party Time’s records.

If you’re not enticed by the invitation’s totally rad clip art, perhaps you will be drawn to the restaurant’s delectable beef  bourguignon or sweetbreads (calf and/or sheep innards) served in the bretonne tradition. Suggested contributions for the event range from $1,000-$2,500 to attend just dinner, while a dinner and reception combo will set you back $5,000.

We built this city on rock ‘n’ roll

This year’s PT award for excellence in PAC naming goes to Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, for his Rock City leadership PAC. Well… it would go to Corker if such an award existed.

You can personally congratulate the Tennessee senator this Wednesday evening, as you enjoy some time with Nashville songwriters at the Recording Industry Association of America’s downtown office.

Corker may be of particular interest to the RIAA thanks to his past role as original co-sponsor of the Performance Rights Act, which would have mandated radio stations pay artists a royalty for playing their tunes on their station — a policy effort close to the hearts of thousands in the Nashville music community. The senator was even honored by the Grammy Association for his work on the matter.

More recently the senator fought against the Pandora-backed Internet Radio Fairness Act, a measure which would slash royalties to musicians from internet radio stations that stream their music.

Suggested contributions to the event range from $1,000-$2,500 for PAC attendees, and $500-$1,000 for individuals.

DeMaio gets big ticket backing

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio is taking his congressional fundraising efforts to the East Coast, where he will be joined by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

The Georgetown grad made a splash by becoming the first openly gay man elected to the city’s council. Undeterred by his unsuccessful follow-up campaign for the mayor’s office, DeMaio has already held at least three major fundraisers for his effort to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to PT records.

The Log Cabin Republicans endorsed DeMaio, who calls himself a “new generation Republican,” and his invitation emphasizes DeMaio’s crossover appeal to women, independents, youth, and Latinos — all demographics that Republicans are desperate to make inroads on. The seat DeMaio wants is currently held by Scott Peters, a a freshman Democrat. As of March 31, Peters had raised more than $250,000 for his re-election campaign, Federal Election Commission records show.

The going rate for DeMaio’s luncheon with House leadership ranges from $250 for individuals to $5,000 for PACs.

Stormin’ the Book of Mormon

As reported by Politico Influence, Congressman John Shimkus, R-Ill., will bring the party to the Kennedy Center this Thursday, treating his guests to a performance of the Broadway hit, the Book of Mormon.

The play, written in part by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, takes a satirical look at the Church of Latter Day Saints. Such lighthearted fun could be just what the congressman needs to take his mind off his recent health setback.

PT has yet to obtain an invitation to this event (insert sad-face emoticon here). As always, if you come across an invite please remember that sharing is caring.

That’s all we have for this week, keep those invitations coming. Until next time folks!


Season tickets, a presidential roundtable, a Google hangout, and a skeet shoot

Political fundraisers may serve many purposes, my fellow partiers.

While a politician’s chief concern at these soirees is generally stuffing the campaign war chest, parties also provide lawmakers with a chance to announce future campaign plans outside of the harsh glare of journalists’ cameras, as Maine Gov. Paul LePage just did, or to show support for their partisan compatriots.

That’s what New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Mayors Against Illegal Guns PAC are up to as the Big Apple independent and the PAC he’s underwriting continue to throw political muscle behind supporters of stricter gun control legislation. As reported by Buzzfeed, Bloomberg will play host July 22 to a $1,000-and-up benefit for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va..

Manchin, seen at right, has a complicated past with gun laws. The blue dog Democrat received campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association as recently September 2012, but later clashed with the guns group over his role in spearheading Senate efforts to mandate universal background checks. Tossing in with Bloomberg likely means Manchin will be one of the NRA’s chief targets should he run for reelection in 2018.

A New York fundraiser hosted by the billionaire mayor offers beneficiaries a chance to cash in on Bloomberg’s Wall Street connects. Party Time records show that past honorees have included former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

Now, on to what’s happening this week on the political party scene.

Barrasso’s season pass

Perhaps borrowing a page out of the Redskins’ marketing strategy, some politicians are wagering that fervent supporters will pony up for a season pass.

At least that’s what pols like Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., are hoping.

This Wednesday, Barrasso’s Common Values PAC will throw an Italian wine tasting happy hour at the Rowland Tasting Room in Southeast Washington. Suggested contributions range from $100 to $1,000 for individuals and PACs, but for those who hold a “season pass,” the event is free!

Such tactics offer politicians a means to get large, lump sum contributions from supporters, instead of relying on repeated requests. On the flip side, holders of a “season pass” get increased access to the recipient via ‘free’ access to fundraisers and retreats throughout the year.

This year’s going rate for season tickets to Barrasso events was $5,000 for PACs and $2,500 for individuals, according to a March 12 invitation. We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s worth the dough.

Obama Roundtable

When he’s not touring South Africa or navigating the intricacies of healthcare reform, our Commander in Chief enjoys many of the same wholesome activities as any other red-blooded American, namely partying (or ’roundtabling’ in this case).

Any fundraiser featuring the Leader of the Free World is sure to cost some serious dough. But, if you have an extra $32,400 lying around, you could join President Obama and 24 other lucky participants at an undisclosed location this Thursday for a roundtable discussion benefiting the Democratic National Committee.

Similar events in the past have gone for as much as $60,000-$100,000. So, just think of this as the half-off sale.

Google hangout

The tech industry is not known as a hotbed of conservative support.

Indeed, the leftward leanings of Silicon Valley were supposedly a contributing factor to the Dems technological edge in the 2012 presidential campaign. That hasn’t stopped Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., from throwing a lunch fundraiser this Thursday in Google’s Washington office.

Influence Explorer data shows that the tech giant tends to favor Democrats with its campaign contributions and PAC money. However, a quick search through the PT database reveals the illustrious search engine’s Washington headquarters has served as the venue to at least five Republican fundraising events since September of last year.

Google’s political action committee, Google NetPAC, has also served as host for at least four events benefiting Republican lawmakers.

If you have any other invitations to political fundraisers by Google, please share with us here (we also accept fundraisers involving Bing, if that’s more to your taste).

Stick to your guns

Finally, if you need to blow off a little steam this Friday, grab your 12 gauge and join Idaho Sen. Jim Risch for a morning of skeet shooting and grub at the Prince George’s County Trap & Skeet Center in Maryland.

Sen. Risch has the distinction of holding an A+ grade from the National Rifle Association and for $500-$1,000 for an individual attendee or $1,000-$2,500 for a PAC, you can see for yourself how good of a shot he is.

Bucking the stereotype that all such fundraisers are elegant affairs held at upmarket townhouses and glitzy hotels, the Maryland shooting range has been an exceedingly popular spot for such events over the past several years.

That’s all for this week, folks. As always, if you come across an invitation to a political fundraiser, share the love and send it this way.


Guns, Getaways and Taylor Swift — This Week in Partying

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

The life of a lawmaker is TOUGH. Take it from Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who recently lamented the “soul-crushing” fundraising every congressmember has to do to survive! Murphy spoke of the dreaded call time, where he sat in a room for four to five hours a day dialing up constituents and begging for money. But Chris, what about the parties!? Tell me you haven’t had fun at the 20+ fundraisers over the past couple years — remember MURPHYPALOOZA back in 2010? Of course you don’t, because that party was awesome! So lighten up, and party on — all your friends are doing it!

We’ve got a full slate of parties this week, as politicians continue that wonderful tradition of fundraising. Check out the highlights below:

Gun Raffles — A Good Idea to Some People
Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel County, has had some bad ideas in the past, but PT thinks he’s on to something here with Saturday’s Gun Rights and Liberty BBQ and Gun Raffle. While you’re off celebrating liberty, you can enter in the raffle to win either an AR-15 or an AK-47! The best part: tickets only cost $5! And you can buy up to 10 of them! I like those odds, partiers. And don’t worry — PT checked this out before and it’s all legal. The festivities take place tomorrow at Kurtz Beach in Pasadena, Md., but the guns won’t be handed out until July 6. Just one problem with that: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ’s gun control bill outlawing certain high-powered rifles, including AR-15s and AK-47s, is scheduled to be signed on May 16. Hmm, looks like Dwyer’s gonna need a really good idea to get around this one.

Guess Who’s Fundraising at a Taylor Swift Concert?
People one would expect to see at the upcoming Taylor Swift concert: a billion teenage girls, many of Swift’s ex-boyfriends who are inevitably trying to win her back, depressed dads of tweens not old enough to go alone — and wait, who’s that? It’s Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky. of course! The Bluegrass State lawmaker will be inviting PACs to attend the show at D.C.’s Verizon Center for the low, low price of $1,000. Guthrie doesn’t care if it doesn’t look manly — he’s fearless.

Hello Again, Cory Booker
Newark Mayor Cory Booker seems to be a well-liked guy — he saves people from burning buildings, shovels others’ driveways, and rescues their dogs. So it’s no surprise that some old Yale Law School pals will be hosting a reception and dinner for Booker on Monday night. The fete will take place at the NYC home of (surprise) lawyer Jacob Buchdahl, costing guests either $5,200 or $2,600 depending on how good of a friend you want to be to Booker. You might want to consider the higher price point — it might be you he rescues next!

Lamar Alexander’s Second and Third Winds
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., has been fundraising up a storm recently, and the funder forecast predicts his torrential downpour of parties continuing to rain down through next week. Extended metaphors aside, Alexander starts his week on Tuesday with a double-header: first he’ll grab lunch at Charlie Palmer’s, then five hours later he’ll rush to the Monocle for a dinner hosted by Honeywell’s PAC, among others. Both events have tabs of up to $2,500/PAC and $1,000/person. But he’s not done yet — on Thursday he’ll go back to Charlie Palmer’s for another lunch, again costing $2,500/PAC and $1,000/person. Alexander is pushing the party meter through the roof, but he’s gotta mix it up — though PT admits it’s hard to follow up a gun raffle and Taylor Swift concert…

Heller Is Still Looking Back on 2012
While most politicians are fundraising for future campaigns — some as far off as 2016 — at least one senator is looking back on 2012, and not in a good way. Dean Heller, R-Nev., still has some debt leftover from his hard-fought campaign —  ”some” meaning over $575,000. So it’s a smart move on his part to host a debt retirement luncheon on Thursday at Capitol Hill spot Bistro Bis. To grab a shovel and dig Heller out of this hole, guests can contribute up to $2,500/PAC or $1,000/person.

Weekend Getaways!
Summer weather finally looks like it’s here to stay, so lawmakers are pouncing on the opportunity to rake in some cash next weekend. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is rolling his supporters away to Virginia for a Weekend at the Tides Inn. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, the Tides Inn can provide guests with golf, spa treatments, boating and more. But guests will have to pony up at least $5,000 to go on this vacation.

Next up is Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who is hosting a Phillies Keystone Weekend for his supporters. The highlight of the weekend will be Casey’s hometown Phillies taking on the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday afternoon, but other events could be on the itinerary as no schedule was released. No price points were released either, so if you’ve got the info send it along this-a-way.

Finally, Rep. GK Butterfield, D-N.C., will trounce these other two by whisking his guests off to tour the island of Bermuda. The trip costs guests a mere $2,500 — half of what you’d pay to accompany Sen. Shelby to Virginia! Talk about a good deal, Partiers.

Unlike the Washington party circuit, some things must come to an end. After many months of writing up Party Time posts, my time has run its course in this space. But fear not! I have a suspicion that the next Party Animal here will bring to this blog a great sense of humor, politics — and, most importantly, snark. Until next time, Partiers!


Beneficiary: congressional candidate, lawmaker, or entity which collects funds raised at party

Host: person who is hosting party-often, but not always, a registered federal lobbyist

Venue Name: where the party is

Entertainment Type: type of gathering, such as "breakfast," "ski trip," "bowling"

Other Lawmakers Mentioned: lawmakers mentioned on invitation who are used as a draw for the event

Sunlight's Party Time is a project to track parties for members of Congress or congressional candidates that happen all year round in Washington, D.C. and beyond. (read more)

We also post information we receive about parties where members of Congress are expected to participate—such as convention or inaugural parties.

Since we don't hear about all the parties, you can also tell us if you know where the party is and we don't.