Massive private fundraising and special interests groups made the show go during last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Now it’s the Democrats’ turn in Philadelphia. The fundraising and donations for both party conventions are detailed in reports from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
While this week’s convention may be in another city, have a different cast of characters and feature a different party platform, it appears that the Democrats, like the GOP, are relying on big checks – upwards of $100,200 per person – to keep the wheels of the four day political bash moving.
You can thank Congress for this trend, which approved measures eliminating public financing of conventions in 2014. As a result, there are some staggering fundraising trends this year – the same time the Democratic party’s platform promises to “fight to reform our broken campaign finance system, which gives outsized influence to billionaires and big corporations.” Here’s a peek at some of the most important bits in the report:
· $67,199,500: expected private fundraising for the Democratic National Convention
· 24 percent: amount of convention committee funding contributed by donors giving maximum allowable contribution
· 54 percent: amount of Democratic presidential primary campaign cash raised from large donors
· $509,960,527: total raised by both Democratic presidential candidates with pledged delegates at the convention, through June 2016
· $100,200: amount a single donor can donate to a party convention committee per year
Keep checking in on Political Party Time, our blog of the DNC and follow @SFPartyTime as members of as Sunlight team hit Philadelphia. Follow @libbycwatson for the answers to all the questions you never even thought to ask.
Don’t forget to keep sending your invitations – here, or by email email@example.com. Party on!Tweet
Donald Trump’s campaign and the RNC got a major financial boost with a massive $898,800 contribution from Indian-American industrialist — and longtime GOP ally — Shalabh Kumar.
Donations this big are possible thanks to Trump’s joint fundraising committee with the RNC and multiple state GOP parties, which can accept contributions as high as $449,400; both Kumar and his wife gave the maximum amount allowed under campaign finance law. Kumar, the founder of the Republican Hindu Coalition, told The Hill that he agreed with Trump’s tough stance on Pakistan and his views on Muslim profiling. Kumar and his wife then doubled down on the Trump campaign by making the enormous contribution. “That’s just the start. That’s seed money,” Kumar said during the first day of the GOP convention.
However, this is not the beginning of Kumar’s financial support of the GOP. The CEO of the Chicago-based manufacturing firm AVG Advanced Technologies contributed $5,400 to the Ted Cruz campaign in March, and he’s ponied up $26,200 in support of the Senate re-election campaigns of Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson, Richard Burr and Rob Portman, according to OpenSecrets.org. Kumar says he’ll spend $2 million in support of the GOP throughout the 2016 cycle.
But Kumar isn’t the only big supporter of Trump. According to FEC records, 18 individuals maxed out to Trump Victory in the month of June, including: Texas businessman Darwin Deason and his wife, Katrina; Rebekah Mercer, daughter of hedge-fund magnate Robert Mercer; and Laura Perlmutter, wife of Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter.
Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar. (Photo credit: Shekar.76/Wikimedia Commons)Tweet
Party conventions have fewer viewers, less suspense (now that nominees are weeded out through primaries), and now, thanks to a 2014 repeal of public financing of conventions (except for security funds), no longer receive any public financial support. Yet, this summer’s 2016 Republican and Democratic conventions are expected to smash spending records, according to Public Citizen, a nonprofit watchdog group that yesterday released a report calling this year’s conventions a “free-for-all” in which “party bosses turn entirely to corporations and the very wealthy” to foot the bill. They estimate that the “Republican convention in Cleveland is likely to cost about $71 million total with $64 million coming from private sources outside the party committee,” while the “Democratic convention in Philadelphia is expected to cost about $65 million, with $60 million coming from the host committee.”
Sunlight’s Political Party Time called attention to the luxuries available to convention-goers in 2012. For Democrats: spa treatments, golfing, a party with Google and Zumba sessions were on the agenda. Meanwhile Republicans could enjoy a beach party, a concert with Willie Nelson and a so-called “Anheuser-Busch Party,” among other lavish festivities.
Sunlight has questioned these practices and suggested that the party platforms themselves have highlighted a problem with money in politics. As Sunlight has noted in the past, there is tension “between the aspirations of the party platform and reality,” and that present practices indicate “hostility toward disclosure of money in politics.”
Sunlight collaborated with Public Citizen in a “bird-dogging” initiative to scrutinize the 2012 and 2008 political conventions and red flag activities which are in violation of ethics rules.
The 2016 conventions will be under special scrutiny because in 2014 Congress repealed public financing of the conventions (except for security, as noted above) and this new era of big private spending ushers in what is estimated to be $64 million of outside money going to the Republican convention and $60 million in funds being spent on behalf of the Democrats.
Political Party Time has been tracking receptions, coffee meetings and penthouse parties since 2008. This month’s conventions will be no different. Baseball, cocktails and a night with Judd Apatow are just a few of the activities on schedule.
Keep checking in as we post invitations to the events in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Are invites to the convention hitting your inbox? If so, upload them or send your invites to firstname.lastname@example.org. Party on!Tweet
“Lobbyists and career politicians make up the Washington Cartel.” Ted Cruz
“I think we need to have more low-dollar efforts here [in this] country. You know, having a handful of billionaires that can basically, with special interest, [the fact that] they can kind of buy an election is something that bothers me.” John Kasich
Despite their rhetoric, campaign cash from lobbyists served as catalysts to keep Ted Cruz and John Kasich afloat. They vied to be the alternative to Donald Trump; now they’re watching the postseason from their couches. Let’s look back at the last two presidential candidates to concede.
While lawmakers frequently fundraise with high-profile donors, many hosts are “consultants” or “advisors” at special interest groups. Here, we only use the term “lobbyist” if it is in their official title or if they are registered as such.
Governor of Ohio John Kasich at NH FITN 2016, Photo Credit: Michael Vadon, Flickr
The Ohio governor’s moderate agenda led to just a moderate amount of votes throughout the GOP primaries. Holding just 18 fundraisers – according to our Party Time database – during his presidential run, Kasich couldn’t muster much support after winning his home state of Ohio.
Kasich’s first fundraiser of his presidential bid occurred almost one year ago on May 20, 2015. Paul Singer, a hedge fund manager and registered lobbyist with Elliott Management, hosted the luncheon. Singer is the third-largest donor to outside groups this election cycle, donating about $10.5 million to Republicans.
Kasich’s Aqua Al 2 fundraiser — the eighth-busiest fundraising venue in the D.C. area – featured:
—Tina Jonas, a lobbyist for CIS (which advocates for a bolstered military)
—Kerry Knott, former Comcast VP
— Lisa Piraneo, a lobbyist wanting to rid the country of “radical Islam”
— Mike Rock, a transportation lobbyist
— Stewart Young, a lobbyist against net neutrality
Kasich’s first fundraiser of 2016 was at the home of Kevin Mandia in California. The event also featured at least three additional lobbyists, including:
Kasich spent the next day in Los Angeles dining with Ron Burkle, co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and lobbyist for the manufacturing industry. In preparation for the Georgia primary, Kasich held a fundraiser in the Peach State with:
— Michael J. Coles, former CEO of Caribou coffee and former CEO of Great American Cookie Company
— John Dancu, president and CEO of Idology, registered lobbyist
— Charles Kuck, leader of Kuck Immigration Partners LLC, lobbying for permissive immigration laws
— William Woodall, lobbyist for Georgia Carry, a Second Amendment advocacy group
Kasich later fundraised in Gulfport, Miss., with more than a dozen hosts from the fields of nursing, anesthesiology and health care. Some of the hosts included:
In the Big Apple, Kasich fundraised with Harry Sloan, CEO of Global Eagle Acquisition Corp. and former CEO of MGM.
Days before his big — and only — primary victory in Ohio, Kasich fundraised with Bill Smithburg, former CEO of Quaker Oats.
Kasich fundraised a month later at the home of former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, now a lobbyist at Whitman Strategy Group, and with Lawrence Bathgate, a fundraiser and donor for former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Kasich then traveled to Connecticut to see:
— Barbara Franklin, a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce
— Bob Forrester, CEO of the Newman’s Own Foundation
— Jim Loree, president of Stanley Black & Decker
— Kevin O’Connor, former U.S. attorney for Connecticut
Ted Cruz at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC, Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the donors. According to Party Time, Ted Cruz centered most of his fundraisers in his home state of Texas, with 12 of his 33 fundraisers taking place there, five in New York City (where he spoke ill of their values) and five in D.C. with the “Washington cartel” he campaigned to upend.
One of his first fundraisers in Houston included several fossil fuel advocates. Cruz fundraised with more than 20 oil and gas lobbyists and consultants throughout the election cycle, including:
— Charles “Chuck” Cooper, lawyer at Cooper & Kirk PLLC, lead legal defense of California’s Proposition 8, and counsel to the National Rifle Association
— Brady Edwards, partner at Morgan Lewis, gave $10,800 to Cruz’s campaign
— David Grimes, founder of TortSmart, LLC, an oil and gas company
— Willie Langston, Cruz’s finance chairman, previously worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley; currently, he’s a founding partner and chairman of Avalon Advisors, and has donated to Cruz 14 times for a total of $17,550
— Rebekah Mercer, daughter of Robert Mercer, who donated $11 million to Ted Cruz’s Keep The Promise PAC
— Cary McNair, vice chairman of the McNair Group and son of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, who gave $5,400 to Cruz’s campaign and half a million dollars to his PAC Keep the Promise.
Cruz even fundraised in blue Austin, Texas, with John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair care products.
His San Antonio event featured Red McCombs, billionaire co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, chairman of Constellis Group, former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Vikings, and the namesake of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas.
A reception in Dallas featured two more of the Lone Star State’s most powerful players:
— William Alvin “Tex” Moncrief, Jr.: billionaire president of Moncrief Oil, who donated $50,000 to Keep the Promise PAC I
— Tom Hicks, who co-founded the investment firm, Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst; previously co-owned the English football club Liverpool F.C.; and chairman of Hicks Holdings LLC, which owns and operates Hicks Sports Group, the company that formerly owned the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars and the Mesquite Championship Rodeo
Another Houston fundraiser featured Willie Langston, Cruz’s finance chairman, who previously worked for Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and who currently is a founding partner and chairman of Avalon Advisors. Langston has donated to cruz 14 times for $17,550.
In addition to Ilya Shapiro, editor-in-chief of Cato Supreme Court Review, many other associates from Jones Day fundraised with the Texas senator.
Although Cruz decried Wall Street money and linked Hillary Clinton’s corruption with her unreleased speeches, he benefited from at least four fundraisers with prominent donors, including Joseph Konzelmann, a Goldman Sachs managing director, as well as Ken and Nina Abramowitz, whose family is one of the top contributors for campaign contributions.
The DNC recently reversed their ban on lobbyists donations. Donald Trump didn’t appear in our fundraising database as a beneficiary until last week. Now that both sides are down to party with special interests, lobbyists may FINALLY have their voices heard, one donation at a time.Tweet
While Hillary Clinton’s weathered her fair share of scandals, it seems she’s finally encountered one that could actually boost her political career. The cast of “Scandal,” ABC’s drama about a cheating president and his mistress, is supporting the former secretary of state at a $5,000 per-person fundraiser today in Washington, D.C.
While the program’s star, Kerry Washington, won’t attend, she previously showed her support when HRC visited the Los Angeles set of Scandal in February. Washington instagrammed an #imwithher selfie with the Democratic frontrunner.
Shonda Rhimes, the show’s creator, starred in Clinton campaign ads and has a history of supporting liberal causes. She previously maxed-out to Hillary Clinton in 2007, and has given big to the Democratic National Committee twice — $33,400 in 2015 and $32,400 in 2014.
The full list of hosts include actors Tony Goldwyn, Guillermo Diaz, Katie Lowes, Jeff Perry, Bellamy Young, as well as Clinton advisors Jake Sullivan and Huma Abedin.
While Clinton won’t be in attendance, Abedin and Sullivan will stand in. Both are in the midst of their own scandal, with an FBI investigation regarding classified files while they were aides to Clinton at the Department of State.
Hillary’s Hollywood endorsements continue to grow – with her most recent high-profile fundraiser with George and Amal Clooney. With the Democratic nomination getting closer and closer, she has plenty of reasons to party on.
The Donald openly admits to his contributions on both sides of the aisle, but his past beneficiaries may surprise you. From the founder of Jimmy John’s to Henry Kissinger, here’s whom Trump has fundraised with in the past seven years.
— He partnered with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who eventually became a presidential opponent-turned-supporter of Trump — two years ago to fundraise for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who also went on to endorse Trump, at the Trump National Golf Club.
— Trump teamed up with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to help elect Pam Bondi, the Republican Florida attorney general, at a Palm Beach, Fla., fundraiser.
— Iowa Rep. Steve King, R, enjoyed Trump’s fundraising prowess in 2014, only to endorse Ted Cruz for the 2016 election.
— Trump fundraised for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County at the Lincoln Day Dinner, again featuring Christie as well as conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, a Trump supporter.
— Just last week, Donald hosted a fundraiser for the Suffolk County Republicans in New York.
Not all his fundraising goes to “winners”
While Trump claims he always wins, some of Trump’s fundraisers benefitted “losers.”
— Trump fundraised for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009, who lost his Senate race to Marco Rubio. Trump also donated to Crist’s campaign multiple times.
— Donald hosted a fundraiser in his New York City home for Tea Party Rep. Allen B. West, Fla., who went on to become a conservative commentator after losing his re-election bid in 2012.
Throwing presidential parties
And while Trump hasn’t officially ran for president until this election, he’s been involved in presidential fundraising in the past.
— Mitt Romney created a “Dine with The Donald” event where donors could contribute as little as $10 and be entered to win a seat at Trump’s table.
— Just a month before the 2012 presidential election, Trump hosted a massive retreat benefiting presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Other notable names on the billing included Mayor Rudy Giuliani who recently, sort of, endorsed Donald Trump, Jimmy John Liautaud (founder of Jimmy John’s subs), comedian Dennis Miller, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, and businessman and investor Charles Schwab.
And even when Trump wasn’t in attendance for his fundraisers, his properties were the prime venue for fundraisers.
— His golf club in Virginia hosted the 32nd Annual Tip O’Neill Golf Tournament for the National Democratic Club, as well as a fundraiser for Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who has endorsed Trump.
— His tower in Stamford, Conn., was used to support another Romney fundraiser with Henry Kissinger.
— He also lent his hotel in Las Vegas for a Romney event in 2012 which charged up to $250,000 to chair.
— His tower in NYC was used to host a fundraiser for former Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.
— Trump’s International Tower in Chicago played host to a funder for ex-Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill.
Even his daughter, Ivanka, hosted a fundraiser with her husband Jared Kushner, owner of Kushner Properties and the New York Observer, at their home for then-Senate candidate Cory Booker back in 2013.
Lastly, of course, here are the fundraisers Party Time has benefiting Trump himself…Tweet
After failing to secure his home state of Florida last week, Marco Rubio bowed out of the 2016 presidential race. The pro-Rubio super PAC – Conservative Solutions PAC – raised $25 million in February, and his official campaign raised $9.6 million, but it wasn’t enough to keep his campaign afloat.
According to Political Party Time, there were 52 fundraisers benefiting Rubio, and nearly half of them took place in December and January. He frequently fundraised in Florida and the District of Columbia, and the events clustered around big donors.
As we bid Rubio adieu, let’s take a moment to look back over the most memorable fundraisers in Party Time.
-Best Use of Alliteration: Mojitos with Marco
-Most Girl Power: Women for Marco featuring Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., and Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah
-Most Scenic View: Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana
-Best Jazz Flute-Playing Host: Arturo Sandoval, famous Cuban jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer
-Best early 2000s Throwback: Five for Fighting singer-songwriter Vladimir John Ondrasik III
-Best Wi-Fi Reception at a Reception: At the Capitol Hill Club fundraiser, Marco was joined by Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wis., Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., and Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., in addition to Peter Davidson (Verizon lobbyist) and Christopher Chapel (NextEra Energy lobbyist)
-Most Expensive: $27,000 reception at Miami Beach
Dr. Ben Carson finally threw up his hands and ended his presidential bid last week. The Motor City native sputtered out after nearly nine months on the campaign trail, but during that time he benefited from a number of big fundraisers. Here’s a Party Time recap of Carson’s 54 funders on the campaign trail.
Ben Carson fundraised in 23 states, including big money locales like Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas and Nashville:
While he ended 2015 on an impressive fundraising run (with 25 events from October to December), Carson only held 9 fundraisers in the last two months.
His top venues were country clubs, hotels, and restaurants. But Carson also ventured outside the norm occasionally: The campaign hosted two fundraisers at automotive museums, including the famed Corvette Museum (which the Carson campaign asked us to take down for some reason). But his love for cars didn’t stop there, later fundraising at the Speedway Club in North Carolina, which hosts dirt bike and NASCAR races every month.
Even as Carson raised an impressive $22 million in 2015 – putting him atop the GOP field at the time – it wasn’t enough to buoy him above his opponents.
(Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)Tweet
In the second edition of the Party Time Podcast with host Melissa Yeager, Libby Watson pulls back the curtain on powerful DNC superdelegates, Josh Stewart dives deep into Super Tuesday spending, Drew Doggett details Donald Trump’s self-funding claim and Jenn Topper investigates what shamrocks and sushi have in common. Tune in to learn more about the importance of super PACs in the 2016 election. Party on!
Because this is one of our first shows, die-hard partiers, we’re looking for your feedback on how to make it better. Which parts rocked the house? Which parts felt like a wet blanket? What did you want to hear that we didn’t cover? Have a listen, and tell us what you think!Tweet
Politicians continue to crisscross the country for campaign cash this week, and Party Time is the only place with all of the details. We’ve got our finger on the pulse of the who, what, where and when of political fundraising from sea to shining sea.
As you look at what’s cracking on the party circuit this week, what are we missing, dear friends? If you’ve got a fundraiser invite or know of an event in the works, you know what to do: Share with Party Time! Upload invites right here, or you can email us whatever you’ve got.
Quick housekeeping note: Although political partying is the only kind of partying that never truly stops, PT is going to take a bit of a summer break. We will continue to collect invitations – so keep them coming! – but our blog won’t be updated as regularly.
With that out of the way, let’s take a quick look at your week in fundraising!
– Hillary Clinton continues her breakneck pace of fundraising this week with five events in three days. The Democratic presidential candidate starts on Monday in the D.C. suburb of Bethesda with a fundraiser at the home of Susan Ness, the former head of the Federal Communications Commission. On Tuesday, Clinton parties at a $2,700-per-person D.C. funder, and then heads north on Wednesday for a trio of events in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She glad-hands donors in Boston and in its swanky suburb of Chestnut Hill before traveling to East Greenwich for a fundraiser hosted by long-time Clinton buddies Mark Weiner and Joe Paolino.
– On the heels of Sen. Rand Paul’s almost-filibuster of the PATRIOT Act and news that his presidential committee hasn’t yet snagged a deep-pocketed benefactor, the Kentucky Republican hits the road for a string of fundraiser appearances. On Tuesday evening, Paul delivers the keynote at the Baltimore County Republican Party’s Lincoln/Reagan Dinner, where tickets start at $100. And on Friday, he makes his way west to California, where he will headline the Republican Party of Orange County’s 16th Annual Flag Day Salute. But Paul isn’t just partying for others: On June 7, he had a fundraiser up in Massachusetts for his own campaign coffers.
– Speaking of Sen. Rand Paul and well-heeled donors, many eagle-eyed politicos thought he had the support of tech industry giant Larry Ellison, since the senator headlined a GOP fundraiser last October at the billionaire’s Bay Area home. But this week, Ellison shows he’s got his eye – and checkbook – trained on a different candidate. On Tuesday, Ellison hosts a four-figure fundraiser for presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
– Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced he is running for president and then quickly threw a fundraiser for that race. Come Wednesday, Graham will have another party, but his one is for his Senate leadership PAC, the Fund for America’s Future. Clearly this guy just loves a good party (and the campaign cash it brings)!
And that’s a wrap on your week in political parties! What have we missed and what have you heard about? Let us know!Tweet
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.