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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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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!

2016 elections 2016 presidential PartyTimeData Partytime Spending • POSTED - 12.16.15 BY Drew Doggett

The Top Holiday Gifts from 2016 Presidential Candidates

While Christmas is just around the corner, we know many of you are making the mad dash for last minute gifts. For the political junkie in every family, or that friend who needs an extra coffee cup, Political Party Time has you covered.

1: Rand Paul Fake Hard Drive

Probably your next paperweight, “Hillary’s Hard Drive with Wiping Cloth” promises a nonworking product with multiple wiping cloths. Currently on sale for only $59.95.

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2: Jeb Bush Guacamole Bowl

Are you tired of those boring guac bowls? Do you want to support your favorite GOP candidate without having his pesky name on the item? Look no further than Jeb!’s latest Guaca Bowl. Only $75.


3: Marco Rubio Airfare

Flights are expensive! Marco has talked at length about his financial struggles early on in his career, so now is your chance to sponsor his trip across the country to one of his big fundraisers. Only $500.

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4: Donald Trump Signature Hat

What began as a Reagan slogan, Trump’s Make America Great Again trucker hat has morphed into a signature totem and one of his biggest campaign expenditures. Only $25.


5: Bernie Sanders Schlep Bag
You know a loved one who carries around too much baggage. Help them out with this tote bag — guaranteed to help schlep around all their belongings/liberal agenda. Only $27.

6: Ted Cruz Coloring Book

He may want you to vote red come November 2016, but for now you can color him any way you’d like with his personal coloring book. Only $10.

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7: Hillary Clinton Spatula

Help your grillmaster brand your burgers a big ‘H’ with the Grillary Clinton Spatula. Only $18.


8: Bernie Sanders Coffee Mug

Bernie’s coffee mug offers a fair warning, reading, “Caution! Contents May Cause a Serious Bern.” Only $15.


9: Marco Rubio Coffee Mug

“There are definitely not enough coffee mugs with puns,” said many campaign managers (at least we assume). If your coffee mug is missing a cheesy pun, look no further than the “Freedom of Espresso” mug from Marco Rubio. Only $25.

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10: Ted Cruz Mugshot Poster

While we don’t know who the mystery body in the picture belongs to, this “Blacklisted and Loving It” poster shows off a different side of the Texas senator – one that you can’t unsee. Only $55.

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11: Hillary Clinton Pillow

She’s winning the wordplay with this throw pillow that reads “A Woman’s Place is in The White House,” and the website describes the pillow as “The perfect touch for any home, whether it’s 1600 Pennsylvania Ave or simply Pennsylvania.” Only $55.


12: Rand Paul Liberty Bear

Rand wants you to enjoy the right to bear arms — and the right for your bear to blare iTunes music. The “Liberty Bear” features a built-in Bluetooth stereo and the head even moves when it speaks! Only $50.

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Spending Uncategorized • POSTED - 06.25.09 BY josh

Congress takes its holiday early

After a frantic four days in Washington, during which there were a phenomenal 240 fundraisers that we know of, members of Congress may be a little partied out. Washington’s watering holes, special interest townhouses and swanky restaurants that host fundraisers will be as quiet as members leave Washington for their districts and states. From this Friday, June 26, until Wednesday, July 8, there are a grand total of seven fundraisers scheduled to take place.

Reps. James Clyburn (D-SC) and Jim Matheson (D-UT) will be kicking off the weekend tomorrow morning with breakfast fundraisers where PACs can contribute $5,000 to host and individuals are being asked to chip in $1,000 to $1,500 to attend.

Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and John Boozman (D-AR) will be ducking out of DC a bit early for a couple of weekend long events. For $5,000 a donor can get tickets to a Yankees game against the Mets in New York with Towns and his Effective Leadership PAC. If that’s a bit too expensive donors can pick up a weekend pass to go trout fishing with Boozman for only $2,000 (PACs) or $1,000 (individuals).

While many of our elected officials will likely be trying to jet out of town the moment they get out of session next week, Rep. Donna Christensen (D-VI) will be hosting a fundraising reception at Patton Boggs House on Tuesday.

Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) may be starting his Fourth of July recess as early as this Friday. He plans to host an end of the quarter reception on the 29th and a follow up “Fish Boil with Labor & Friends” on the 30th–both in Wisconsin.

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Spending inaugural • POSTED - 01.15.09 BY Nancy Watzman

Getting the party started

If you haven’t noticed already, the capitol city is turning into one big party. The celebration of the inaguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president is well underway. For example, the Hip Hop Caucus is planning a party tonight billed as an “exclusive pre-inauguration celebrity affair,” invitation only, with sponsorship levels reaching as high as $100,000, according to this schedule of events compiled by the political consulting group ConklinScott.

Events like the Hip Hop party are part of the long list of private events that are not required to comply with President-elect Obama’s restrictions and disclosure requirements for inaugural events. Obama certainly has gone further than any previous president-to-be, limiting contributions from individuals to $50,000, refusing donations form corporations, political action committees, and lobbyists, among other restrictions. (Read the fine print here.)  He’s also made information avaialble about his inaugural donors who give more than $200 here.  But these rules apply only to events funded by the inaugural fund, such as the ten official inaugural balls on Jan. 20.

Private events include corporate-sponsored state society balls, such as the Illinois State Society’s ball. That party is drawing contributions from lobbying firms PMA Group and Holland & Knight, as well as major corporations such as United Airlines, Motorola, Google, and Microsoft, reports the Washington Times.

As at the political conventions last summer, often these parties are carefully planned so members of Congress and top staff can attend while complying with ethics laws. Says the Washington Times:

These parties are being structured so that lawmakers can attend without breaking new rules that restrict their socializing with lobbyists. Many of the invitations include a menu of “heavy hors d’oeuvres,” for example, because lawmakers cannot accept full meals from lobbyists under the rules.

The Poker Players Alliance is hosting a private, invitation-only event to honor “our new poker player in chief” starting at 11 p.m. on Inauguration Day at a well-known local cigar bar. The fine print of the invitation, sent to some lawmakers, notes that the event “conforms with the congressional ethics committee rules.”

Democratic convention Spending • POSTED - 08.25.08 BY Nancy Watzman

Not so popular

Those of you who followed our exploits on will know that as I suspected, I’m not so popular when it comes to convention parties.

Last night Gabriela Schneider, the Sunlight Foundation’s communications director, and I met up with a crew from Inside Edition, which was doing a piece about the Baca golf fundraiser I blogged about yesterday. (The story should air tonight.) Our first stop was the lobbying firm Brownstein, Farber party at the Denver Art Museum. It had all the appearances of an elegant affair. Well coifed and dressed folks chatting outside the entrance in the cool evening, not paying much attention to the riot police who were grouped nearby.

Stephen Farber, lobbyist and lead organizer of the convention for the Denver Host Committee did a photo op outside before entering. Alas my rendition is too blurry to include here. And for anyone who doubted that members of Congress were invited need only look at this sign in front of the building. I went up to the other side and asked if I could go in and was told, quite pleasantly and politely, “no.”

Next stop was the Blue Dog party sponsored by AT&T and Genworth Financial, out in what seemed to be an industrial wasteland by the Pepsi Center. Fitting with the surroundings, the bouncers there were, well, rather thuggish. I was told in no uncertain terms that I was not even allowed to stand near the entrance, since that was private property. When I demurred from moving, a police woman walked over to me, said, “So YOU’RE the self professed party crasher?” and told me I had to stand over on public space. So Gabriela and I complied.

We weren’t the only ones who tried to get into the Blue Dog party and failed. Inside Edition didn’t get in. Neither did folks from Crooks and Liars or Jane Hamsher from Firedoglake or Matt Stoller of Open Left.  Neither did reporters from CQ or the AP, at least not while we were there. There was also a demonstration by Code Pink, although I don’t believe it was their object to go in the party, but rather to flaunt their pink and sing protest songs.

Well, today is a new day. We’re off soon to the Big Tent. More later.

Spending • POSTED - 07.23.08 BY Nancy Watzman

Will run in exchange for babysitting

Speaking of babysitting, this piece by Ken Silverstein in Harper’s March 2008 edition is a must read for background on how lawmakers use their campaign funds to pay for all sorts of costs associated with partying—including, yes, babysitting:

As for babysitting, the congressman [Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA)] said that he had asked the FEC for an opinion about that matter, and he had been assured it was appropriate. “We don’t use it often, but we have occasionally,” he told me, adding that he usually paid $100 “if the person comes in and spends the night.” The 2007 tab for $300 was for babysitting when he and his wife were away for a few days at a Republican retreat—at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina.

So let me understand this correctly. If I were a congressional candidate, I could use the campaign money I got from donors—which in McCrery’s case include folks working for the Blackstone Group, General Electric, and New York Life Insturance–and pay for babysitting while I went a played golf on the Chesapeake Bay? Maybe I should reconsider my political career. Except rather than golfing, I’d like to go skiing. Or mountain biking.


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.