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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 elections • POSTED - 05.26.16 BY Drew Doggett

Episode 3: Political Party Time Podcast — Congressional fundraising and ‘dialing for dollars’

Listen in to the third episode of our Political Party Time Podcast. Melissa Yeager, Libby Watson and Drew Doggett discuss money in politics in 2016, congressional “dialing for dollars” and Donald Trump’s “180″ on fundraising.

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

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Cruz, Kasich and the industries that fueled their campaigns

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

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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.

John Kasich

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:

    — Naren Gupta, founder of Nexus Venture Partners
    — Mark Kvamme, co-founder at the firm Drive Capital
    — Kevin Mandia, president of FireEye and a registered lobbyist
    — Chad R. Walsh, patent attorney

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:

    — Brian Conklin, lobbyist for USAA
    — Jay Cottingham, oil and gas lobbyist
    — Pete Perry, Hinds County GOP chair accused of voter fraud
    — Billy Powell, petroleum lobbyist

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

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.

In D.C., Cruz benefited from four fundraisers in our nation’s capital, partying with Jonathan Greenberg, an associate at Morgan Stanley.

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.

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2016 presidential PartyTimeData Partytime Uncategorized • POSTED - 04.27.16 BY Drew Doggett

Hillary Clinton’s most ’scandalous’ fundraiser yet

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.

Kerry Washington

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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…

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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

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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.”

Badgers

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!

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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)

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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.

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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)

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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.

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PARTYFINDER™ Hints

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.