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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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2016 presidential Partytime Uncategorized • POSTED - 04.22.16 BY Drew Doggett

Party Time Vault: Trump the benefactor

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.

Since then, the relationship has apparently soured; the two have had some not-so-nice things to say about each other.

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…


Marco Rubio rides into the sunset

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 Bargain: Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars hosted a “Rally-Style” fundraiser in Miami and a “Birthday Celebration” in Las Vegas

-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

2016 elections PartyTimeData Partytime • POSTED - 03.18.16 BY Drew Doggett

Members of Congress shoot hoops and collect shamrocks for fundraising

The madness has begun. Well, fundraising madness never really ends, but the March Madness basketball tournament now begins. Spring is in the air. St. Patrick’s Day has arrived. And our lawmakers are looking to use all three to increase their cash flow.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. likes to wear green as much as he likes to raise it. The congressman hosted his 22nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Fete at Kena Temple. The entry fee was only $40, but $500 or more got you into the VIP reception.

Ron Swanson

Fun Fact: Corned beef and cabbage is the Irish version of spaghetti and meatballs.

Love Irish holidays as well as Japanese cuisine? Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y. has the culturally confused covered with a Sushi and Shamrocks Fest. Hosts were asked to contribute $2,500 to attend.

Fun Fact: There are 34.7 million U.S. residents with Irish ancestry. This number is more than seven times the population of Ireland itself.

Even the House Speaker is feeling the Luck of the Irish. Rep. Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis. St. Patrick’s Day Reception at Union Market featured many a congressperson. Speaker Ryan loves to give back to his party through greenbacks.

Fun Fact: Saint Patrick’s color was actually a light shade of blue. The color green became associated with his holiday after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 1700s.

Paul Ryan

The Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament roared into D.C. last week, and lawmakers took notice. Rep Don Beyer, D-Va., and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., each held events for fellow hoops fans, offering box seats to the tourney at the Verizon Center. Seating alongside the two congressmen at the tournament championship cost just $750.

Fun Fact: Wallethub estimates that “hourly corporate losses will amount to roughly $1.9 billion as a result of workers whose productivity has been diverted by March Madness.”


In 2013, we saw an abundance of March Madness-themed fundraisers while 2015 centered around St. Paddy’s Day. Regardless of the occasion, we’ll strive to build the most comprehensive calendar of the fundraising circuit. Please share any invitations you find by anonymously uploading or emailing them to us here. 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 Uncategorized • POSTED - 03.08.16 BY Drew Doggett

Ben Carson, a Party Time tribute

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.

Aside from dining with several doctors, surgeons, and neurologists, Teddy Turner Jr. (son of CNN creator Ted Turner) hosted two fundraisers for Dr. Carson.

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)

Uncategorized • POSTED - 03.04.16 BY Drew Doggett

Episode 2: Political Party Time Podcast — Super Tuesday, super delegates and super PACs

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! 

Send us your comments here, or tweet at @SFPartyTime.

2016 elections • POSTED - 02.18.16 BY Drew Doggett

Hillary Clinton’s February fundraising is a tour-de-force

Although Hillary Clinton has benefited from more than 100 fundraisers in just the first two months of 2016 — an average of 1.75 per day — this week marks her busiest fundraising period to date.

Clinton’s fundraisers now tally over 300 across the globe in this election cycle so far, in part by deploying family members Bill and Chelsea to multiply her money making measures. But even for the Clinton camp, 21 fundraisers in just four days this week is a true tour-de-force.

And Clinton isn’t just hitting up Nevada or South Carolina as the primaries loom – her fundraising will be in 11 states across the country, including the ATM states like Florida, New York, Texas, and Illinois.

On Monday, the candidate herself appeared at two events in Florida — one in Boca Raton and one in Miami — both with prices up to $27,000 for hosts. On Tuesday, Hillary attended two events in New York City and one in Virginia, while her Director of Policy Outreach Ed Meier met with donors not once but twice in Texas.

But Wednesday was the centerpiece, with a total of eight fundraising events occurring in one day: Hillary was at three Chicago events; Chelsea broke bread with Susie Buffet — daughter of Warren Buffet — in Nebraska, then headed to Kansas for another funder; and Bill headlined three events in New York. Prices to all of these events frequently rose to $10,000 or even $27,000 for top-tier levels.

Of course, it didn’t stop Thursday. Hillary was on the move again, heading to Las Vegas for another $27,000 reception, while Chelsea also headed west to a fundraiser in Colorado.

All this is just a small snapshot of the fundraising schedule of a presidential candidate. And if you thought it would slow down after this grueling period, just take a look at what Hillary’s got on the docket for next week. Hint: More (and more and more) fundraisers.

(Photo credit: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America/Flickr)

2016 elections • POSTED - 02.10.16 BY Louis Serino

Check out the brand new Party Time podcast!

Partiers, we know you’re some of the coolest people on the political scene — you always know where the most exclusive fundraisers are, after all. That’s why we wanted to share an exclusive look at our very first Party Time Podcast with you!

Each show, Sunlight’s insiders will highlight the best fundraisers for those who have money to burn, analyze the latest campaign finance stories and keep you updated on Election 2016 — all with that signature Party Time wit. In this edition, we analyze the horse race among 2016 presidential candidates, find out why Chelsea Clinton’s SoulCycle fundraiser didn’t go quite as planned and more.

Because this is our premier show, 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! Send us your comments here, or tweet at @SFPartyTime.

And, in case you missed it, we analyzed Jeb and Hillary’s favorite places to break bread with big donors across America. Check out our interactive maps that visualize just how far these candidates go to raise some serious campaign cash.


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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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)


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.