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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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Uncategorized • POSTED - 02.02.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Sen. Rand Paul goes to Iowa, Rep. Gwen Moore raises money over breakfast, Sen. Harry Reid revs up for 2016, and a Democratic challenger to Sen. Rob Portman parties in D.C.

Hello, party people! After a jam-packed January full of 2016 positioning, we are diving right into February, hearts full of anticipation. What will this next month bring?

Already, Party Time can tell there is plenty more presidential politicking on the horizon. On Thursday in Washington, the American Principles Project – a nonprofit that advocates on social conservative issues – hosts two governors who have their eyes on a higher office. Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., will keynote a lunchtime discussion about hot button topic Common Core, where tickets go for $50 a plate. In the evening, former Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, will headline the Red, White & Blue Gala. Tickets to the dinnertime event (which provides an outfit challenge if we’ve ever heard of one: it’s a cocktail attire affair, and attendees are encouraged to don red, white and blue garb) start at $300 and climb to $15,000.

This week brings with it an uptick of parties on our calendar, but we just know there’s more happening out there. Friends, what have you heard about? Send us whatever you’ve got – we will take it all! Email us the goods, or upload official invites right here.

And now, let’s get to those parties!

Ready for Rand
While Perry and Jindal do the grip and grin with conservatives in D.C., another GOP-er who’d like to move into the White House makes his way to Iowa, the all-important location of the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul touches down in the Hawkeye State on Saturday yet again for a handful of events.

Paul starts out his day at a 9 a.m. meet and greet fundraiser for first-term Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa. Democrats already are angling to unseat Blum, who replaced Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley when the latter opted to run for the Senate seat vacated when longtime Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, retired. Gary Kroeger, a Saturday Night Live cast member in the ’80s who is now the creative director at Mudd Advertising, is interested in Blum’s 1st District seat, according to a recent National Journal article.

In the afternoon, Paul is slated to party with students at the Iowa State Center. The get-together is put on by RANDPAC, the senator’s leadership PAC, and the invite promises that the “first 100 students in the door get a free Rand Paul phone case.” It’s a smart move, because (a) that’s free publicity, and (b) everyone knows college kids will do just about whatever for a free anything.

Paul’s one-two punch in Iowa comes a week after he snagged the head of the Texas Republican Party, Steve Munisteri, as an adviser for that growing presidential team. And (not coincidentally?) Paul also delivered the keynote at last Friday’s Reagan Day Dinner for the Dallas County Republican Party.

Moore money
After spending a decade on Capitol Hill, Rep. Gwen Moore has a grasp on what makes a good party. Party Time’s records show that the Wisconsin Democrat mixes the traditional with the sassy, hosting plenty of luncheons and dinners but throwing in a fundraiser or two at a Lady Gaga concert or a basketball game. In fact, after she got sworn in on Jan. 6, she hit up donors at a Marquette-Georgetown game at the Verizon Center. Busy day!

Come Tuesday morning, Moore plans to breakfast with supporters at PT hotspot Johnny’s Half Shell. Individuals can snag a spot at the 2015 Welcome Back Breakfast for $250, but PACs are asked to throw in anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. We’ve got to hand it to Moore for how upfront she is about this multipurpose meal: The invite calls this a “welcome back” fundraiser, but explains that money raised will go toward her reelection campaign. Turns out, everybody’s got their eye on 2016.

Harry parties like it’s 2016
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has had a rough few months. After the Democrats lost the Senate in November, Reid got demoted to the chamber’s Minority Leader. Then, over the holiday break, Reid had a bizarre exercising accident that led to broken ribs, an eye patch and then surgery.

But you can’t keep Harry down. Despite the setbacks, the Capitol Hill fixture says he aims to run for a sixth term in the Senate. And to prove his point, Reid is throwing a party for his 2016 race.

On Thursday, Jake Perry and Anne Brady (both longtime Dem operatives who now work for lobbying shop Crossroads Strategies), will host a D.C. fundraiser for Reid and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Shindig for Sittenfeld
Sen. Rob Portman announced in December that he wouldn’t launch a bid for the White House, but that doesn’t mean the Ohio Republican won’t have a tough race in 2016. The first-term senator already has a Democratic challenger by the name of P.G. Sittenfeld, a 30-year-old member of the Cincinnati City Council.

In mid January, Sittenfeld told his hometown newspaper that he wanted to run for the Senate and just a few weeks later, he’s got a fundraiser in Washington. That’s a quick turnaround, if you ask us! A handful of well-connected D.C. Democrats will party with Sittenfeld and some early-on supporters on Thursday at the home of Susan Sachs Goldman, a local writer and member of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Board of Governors.

And with that, we wrap up your week in political parties! What are we missing and what have you heard about? Send whatever you’ve got right here.

Photo courtesy Pixabay

Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.26.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Rep. Barbara Comstock has an open house, Wisconsin judges party hard, Ready for Hillary throws D.C. fundraiser, and Rep. Steny Hoyer hits the slopes

Hiya, party animals! As we wrap up this first month of the 114th Congress, politicians continue to keep their noses to the grindstone, filling their days with votes, meetings and press conferences. From what Party Time can tell, all that actual working is keeping members of Congress away from the real halls of power – the fundraising funhouses that bring together wealthy donors and the politicians who love them.

Over here at PT, we do our very best to keep track of all of the political partying, whether it’s happening on K Street or Main Street. But we need your help, friends! What’s brewing in your hometowns? What D.C. happenings have you heard about? Please send us whatever you’ve got. You can email us, or upload official invites right here.

And with that, let’s get to your week in political parties!

Comstock’s open house
Rep. Barbara Comstock still may be settling into her Cannon Building office, but she seems to be settled in how to navigate the halls of Congress. The first-term Republican from Virginia’s 10th District snagged seats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Science, Space and Technology Committee, and the House Administration Committee.

At first blush, those may not sound like the sexiest committee assignments. But according to a recent poll, 50 percent of Americans think “funding infrastructure projects” is an “absolute priority this year,” which means plenty of attention around the goings-on in the Transportation Committee. And the Administration Committee has a hand in member and committee expenditures and salaries, plus the all-important decision of which House member gets what office and parking space. You better believe that’s a quick way to make friends (and enemies, for that matter) on the Hill.

On Monday morning, Comstock invites her constituents to her office (which we can only assume is in a prime location) for an open house. Of course, the event is not a fundraiser–it’s illegal to solicit donations from a Capitol Hill office–but it is a chance for the kind of folks who wander the halls of House office buildings to drop in, get acquainted–and perhaps mention a bridge or two that need fixing.

Bucks for the bench
The one branch of the government that’s technically cloistered from some of the nastier elements of partisanship and politicking nevertheless gets lured into the fundraising game. That’s right, folks, judges are asking for your vote – and your cash.

This week in Wisconsin, two judicial candidates are passing around the collection plate for their campaigns. On Wednesday evening, Paul Bugenhagen Jr., who is running for the Waukesha County Circuit Court judge, will have a meet and greet at the Wern Valley Sportsmens Club. And James Daley – a judge in Rock County who is running for a spot on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court – will have back-to-back cocktail receptions on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

If you needed another indication that money in judicial elections is the latest issue du jour, look no further than the Supreme Court itself. Later this month, the supremes will hear a case that asks whether or not prohibiting a judicial candidate from asking directly for campaign contributions is a “constraint” on free speech.

For the record, the parties for Daley benefit his campaign committee, which is legal under Wisconsin law (the campaign committee can ask for money, but the person running cannot). Then there’s this gem from the Wisconsin State Legislature:

“The committee is not prohibited from soliciting and accepting lawful campaign contributions from lawyers, other individuals, or entities even though the contributor may be involved in a proceeding in which the judge, candidate for judicial office, or judge-elect is likely to participate.”

And that may or may not lead to anecdotes like the one in this National Journal story, where a judicial candidate is quoted saying “I look forward to seeing you in court” after asking a roomful of people for their support.

Ready for Hillary? Then ready those checkbooks!
Turns out just about everyone is waiting to hear what Hillary Clinton has decided about running for president in 2016. In an interview last week, Chelsea Clinton told People magazine that she didn’t know about her mom’s potential presidential plans, saying, “No, I’m waiting, too” on a decision.

Either way, Ready for Hillary is going to be, well, ready. The super PAC that has been raising cash and building a long list of supporters – politicians and regular Joes alike – is throwing yet another party, this one a downtown D.C. bash. Geared toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, Tuesday night’s party has a long list of prominent signers-on, including Neera Tanden, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and is listed as the event’s special guest.

Ticket prices play on the group’s consistent nod to 2016, with attendees asked to throw down $20.16 and hosts asked to give $201.60. Want to be an event chair? That will cost you the off-theme amount of $500.

Winter wonderland
Party Time loves it when politicians get creative in their quest for campaign cash, and this weekend’s pricey party for Rep. Steny Hoyer doesn’t disappoint. The Maryland Democrat will gather his supporters in Park City, Utah, for a weekend of skiing, snowball throwing and Sundance film watching, where attendees are asked to give a cool $5,000.

For those willing and able to write a check for such a hefty sum, they’ll get a chance for some face time with Hoyer and a newly minted Patton Boggs employee. Former Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, joined the mega lobbying firm on Jan. 20 – just two weeks after his term ended in the House – as a principal in the company’s public policy practice. He’s listed as the event’s organizer.

But don’t worry, friends, Matheson is in the clear under the requirements about when former members of Congress can officially lobby their old colleagues. You see, throwing a fundraiser for someone isn’t considered official lobbying, making this party totally legit. Whew, what a close one!

And with that, party people, we call a wrap on your week in political fundraising. What have we missed and what have you heard about? Send whatever you’ve got right here.

Photo courtesy Flickr

Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.19.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Iowa hosts most 2016 GOP hopefuls while Sen. Marco Rubio parties at the beach; Texas welcomes a new governor with a BBQ and Sen. Chris Coons fundraises over basketball

Hey, party people, hey! If you can believe it, we are already churning through January, combating the cold by keeping track of all of the hobnobbing happening at political parties.

The theme of the year has been, so far, all about early-on angling by presidential hopefuls. The 2016 election is still 22 months away, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio from ramping up their fundraising operations.

As always, Party Time is on the hunt for the latest developments on the party circuit. But as the fundraising fun ramps up after the holidays and swearing-in ceremonies, we need your help! What have you heard about, friends? Please-oh-please send us whatever you’ve got by shooting us an email or uploading invites right here. (And rest assured: PT always keeps mum about our sources.)

Let’s get to your week in political parties!

GOP goes big in Iowa
Conservative heavyweights and activists descend on Des Moines Saturday for a full day of red, white and blue rallying. This year’s Freedom Summit, a joint effort put on by Citizens United and Iowa Rep. Steve King, boasts a long list of speakers who will talk about the economy, social issues and national defense (and maybe 2016 prospects?).

Sarah Palin, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Newt Gingrich, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Ben Carson, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, Carly Fiorina, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, former Ambassador John Bolton, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan and New Hampshire state Rep. William O’Brien will all be on hand.

This is the second annual Freedom Summit, and the free event hit capacity again. Last year’s get-together was in New Hampshire and featured many of the same speakers, although this time around, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is noticeably absent from the lineup. Hmmm …

Money for Marco
Sen. Marco Rubio is in full-on can’t stop, won’t stop mode. The Florida Republican just published his book, “American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone,” hit up donors at a luncheon tied to the tome’s release, and chatted up Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.” Plus, Rubio keeps on reminding everyone that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s decision to run for the White House won’t impact the senator’s presidential plans.

And this weekend, Rubio parties with his biggest fans at the Fourth Annual Team Marco Event in Miami Beach. The fundraiser, at the super swanky Delano South Beach Hotel, will benefit Rubio’s leadership PAC, the Rubio Victory Committee. Fingers crossed for a round of Marco Polo in the hotel’s infinity pool.

Everything’s bigger in Texas
Our friends in the Lone Star State sure know how to throw a party. Whether they are hosting national Democrats for a star-studded shindig at a filmmaker’s home in Austin or gathering conservatives for Americans for Prosperity’s National Summit in Dallas, the good folks out in Texas never disappoint.

And this week, the tradition continues. Inauguration festivities will keep Austin buzzing for two days as the state welcomes Republican Greg Abbott to the Governor’s Mansion.

Things get started on Monday evening with what organizers are calling the Young Texans Celebration. The Josh Abbott Band – whose lead singer isn’t related to the incoming governor although they share the same last name – will perform at the Moody Theater, with tickets going for $35 per person.

The inauguration itself takes place Tuesday morning, and will be followed by a lunchtime BBQ (obviously). Word on the street is that planners ordered four tons of beef brisket! Eddie Deen & Company, which put together the grub for inaugural events for former Govs. Rick Perry and George W. Bush, will cater the meal, according to the Texas Tribune. Then, after the BBQ at the Capitol, there’s a parade along Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.

Things get fancier by Tuesday night, though, with a black tie inauguration gala at the Convention Center. Lady Antebellum and Pat Green are slated to headline the Future of Texas Ball, where tickets start at $75.

And who, you might ask, is bankrolling such a full schedule of celebratory events, which is estimated to cost upwards of $4 million? You’ll have to wait until after the party wraps to learn that. According to the Dallas Morning News, in a break from previous inaugural committees (and in a departure from Abbott’s campaign, which focused on government transparency), officials this year are staying quiet about the donors until after the champagne gets popped.

B-ball bucks
A few months after winning his first full term in Congress, Sen. Chris Coons celebrates by hitting the Party Time circuit with a fundraiser for his leadership PAC, Blue Hen PAC. On Wednesday night, the Delaware Democrat and his donors will hobnob at the Verizon Center while the Washington Wizards take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tickets are $2,500 per person, which will put you in the “assist” category, while $5,000 for a pair will give you the distinction of a “three-pointer” contributor. We get the attempt at basketball-themed donor tiers, but could you all be a bit more creative – or at least consistent? How about ranking gifts as assists versus alley-oops? Or maybe labeling different levels as a layup versus a three-pointer?

Also: How has no one created a “bank shot” donor tier for a basketball fundraiser? Just sayin’.

And that wraps up your week in political parties, friends! What are we missing, and what have you heard about? Send whatever you’ve got right here.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.12.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Jeb Bush! Marco Rubio! Elizabeth Warren! Hillary Clinton! 2015 partying gets started with an eye on the 2016 presidential race

Happy New Year, party people!

As we start out this snowy, chilly 2015, politicians are settling in at their new digs on Capitol Hill and navigating the uncharted territory of the 114th Congress. And we are finding that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for some good, old-fashioned partying. Members of Congress are surprisingly mum when it comes to fundraising fun in these first few weeks of the session. (But if you’ve heard of anything brewing out there, please share with Party Time! Send us the goods right here.)

In fact, the most noteworthy event on Party Time’s calendar last week was miles away from D.C. with nary a congressmember in sight. Amid a fistful of gubernatorial inauguration events, a party for Jeb Bush’s leadership PAC last Wednesday snatched our attention.

The private reception for the former Florida governor and likely presidential candidate gut-punched the 2016 race, collecting headlines, cash and that all-important early Republican establishment support. According to coverage of the event on the CT Politics blog, 175 people attended the reception at the $7.2 million Greenwich, Conn., home of Charles Davis, a banking executive who logged 23 years at Goldman Sachs.

An attendee said Bush leveled a subtle attack on presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, further upping the 2016 ante. From the article: “‘He said, “If someone wants to run a campaign about ’90s nostalgia, it’s not going to be very successful,”’ an insider told Hearst Connecticut Media.”

Of course, some might accuse Bush of engaging in ’50s nostalgia, since he was launching his leadership PAC in the very same place that his grandfather, Prescott Bush, launched the public career (as Greenwich town moderator) that eventually took him to the U.S. Senate. The elder Bush, seen at left, represented the Nutmeg State from 1952-1963.

This week, the presidential partying trend seems to continue. Party Time’s social calendar (a) is rather light on events, and (b) leans toward potential 2016-ers. On Thursday, the group hoping to convince Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to run for president will throw a fundraiser at D.C. restaurant Local 16. Tickets to the Ready for Warren Presidential Draft Committee shindig start at $15 for students, while $100 or $150 will get you a spot on the host committee.

Meanwhile, up in Manhattan, the pro-Hillary Clinton group, Ready for Hillary PAC, will have a party tailored to the gay community. The group is charging $20.16 per person to attend the Out & Ready for Hillary event.

Not to be outdone, Sen. Marco Rubio is planning a gathering on Tuesday in the Big Apple for his joint fundraising committee, the Rubio Victory Committee. The Republican from Florida also has his eyes on the White House: In November, during an interview with a radio station in Colombia, , he said he would make a decision about running “in the coming weeks. ”

Wayne Berman — a familiar face on the Party Time circuit and a lobbyist at Ogilvy Government Relations before joining another power player, the Blackstone Group – is hosting the high-dollar fundraiser for Rubio.

Although it’s been a light few weeks, we know it’s only a matter of time before our calendar starts filling up with receptions, happy hours and breakfast-time get-togethers. What have you heard about, friends? If you know of a fundraiser in the works, you know what to do! Email us whatever you’ve got, or you can upload official invites right here.

Photos courtesy and the U.S. Congress

2016 presidential Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.06.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

2016 watch: Jeb Bush’s leadership PAC, Right to Rise PAC, to throw first fundraiser

Jeb Bush – former governor of Florida and likely 2016 presidential candidate – piqued the interest of political watchers everywhere this week when his newly formed leadership PAC sent out invitations for a fundraiser on Wednesday in Connecticut.

As first reported by the CT Politics blog, invites to the reception called for contributions of up to $5,000. The event “will be an opportunity to discuss the Governor’s background, his future plans and most importantly, ask questions,” according to the emailed invitation obtained by CT Politics.

Longtime Bush insiders Craig and Debbie Walker Stapleton are organizing the fundraiser in Greenwich, Conn., where Bush’s grandfather, the late Connecticut Sen. Prescott Sheldon Bush, lived and is buried.

Craig Stapleton was the ambassador to the Czech Republic (2001-2004) and France (2005-2009) under former President George W. Bush, Jeb’s brother. Stapleton also served as the Connecticut Finance Chairman for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000 and as its Connecticut State Chairman in 2004, and was on the board of the George W. Bush Library and Foundation.

This is Stapleton’s third appearance in Party Time as a fundraiser host. In 2011, he added his name to two invites for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Debbie Walker Stapleton is a first cousin of former President George H.W. Bush, Jeb’s father. In 2009, she published a cookbook about her time in France, titled “Elegant Entertaining: Seasonal Recipes from the American Ambassador’s Residence in Paris.”

The host committee for Wednesday’s event also includes Richard Breeden, who served as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission under former President George H.W. Bush and now runs an equity investment fund company. Breeden also hosted a handful of fundraisers in 2011 and 2012 for Romney’s presidential run, according to Party Time data.

David McCormick, who was Undersecretary for International Affairs in the Treasury Department during the second Bush presidency, is also listed as a host for Wednesday’s party. McCormick is now the co-CEO of hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates.

On Tuesday, Fox News reported that Jeb Bush would file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to establish his leadership PAC, the Right to Rise PAC. Money raised during Wednesday’s private fundraiser will go the group. As of publication time, we’ve seen no paperwork so far, but you can keep an eye on our new committees page here.

The Nutmeg State fundraiser is the latest in a string of not-so-subtle hints that Bush wants to follow his dad and brother to White House. In a mid December post on Facebook, Bush announced he would “actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States.” Bush’s post also stated he would create a leadership PAC to “help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.”

The “What We Believe” page on the Right to Rise PAC’s website focuses primarily on economic issues. It states: “We believe the income gap is real, but that only conservative principles can solve it by removing the barriers to upward mobility.” But the page also checks the usual presidential boxes: national defense, energy, immigration and education.

A few hours after Fox reported on the formation of the PAC, Bush updated his Facebook cover photo to include the Right to Rise PAC’s logo. He also posted two short videos – one in English and one in Spanish – announcing the PAC’s creation.

But Bush isn’t the only Republican from Florida with presidential ambitions and a fundraising apparatus. Sen. Marco Rubio continues to mull over a bid for the White House in 2016, and in December, he talked with donors about a possible run during a fundraiser for his joint fundraising committee, the Rubio Victory Committee. And Rubio recently told New York Times Magazine that his decision to run for president wouldn’t hinge on Bush.

The power brokers behind Right to Rise PAC already appear to grasp the potential rivalry between the two possible presidential contenders. An advertisement for Right to Rise PAC came up during recent Google searches of “Marco Rubio 2016″ and “Rubio Victory Committee.”

While Bush is making his way north for his PAC’s inaugural fundraiser, two other potential 2016 rivals are in his state Tuesday for a different kind of inaugural. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and soon-to-be-former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas both had front and center seats at the swearing in of Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., for a second term.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.15.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

Oddball PT Round-up: Party Time’s top 10 zaniest political fundraisers of 2014

pennants reading "Top 10" over party hats

Party people, the year is quickly drawing to a close and you know what that means: A look back at the best – as in, creative/kooky/oddball – parties of 2014! (If you know of a winner that we don’t have, you know what to do! Send it right here.)

As we thumb through the year that was, we are struck by all of the strategic partying that went down, especially in the run-up to the midterms. We watched potential 2016-ers Hillary Clinton, outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., crisscross the country and cozy up to campaign contributors. And wouldn’t you know it … some of those donors just happened to be in key presidential primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

The partier-in-chief himself was a force to be reckoned with, too, headlining 71 fundraisers this year, according to Party Time’s data. Although any presidential party is noteworthy, everyone seemed to get extra excited when President Obama partied with Gwyneth Paltrow. Especially Paltrow.  “You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly,” she told the president at the party at her L.A. home. And, just a few days later, Jon Stewart made late-night comedic hay out of Obama’s fundraising stop at the Connecticut home of real estate mogul Rich Richman.

Headline-grabbing aside, here are some of the wacky ways politicians drummed up dollars in your yearly roundup of the wild world of political fundraising. Drum roll, please!

10) Party Time really, really wanted to be a fly on the wall for this event: Former President Bill Clinton headlined a luncheon for Georgia’s Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn at Usher’s house in Atlanta. We had our fingers crossed for a Bubba-on-the-sax rendition of “DJ Got Us Fallin in Love.”

9) Rep. Loretta Sanchez caught our attention with two creative fundraising ploys this year. First, the California Democrat had a pricey mani/pedi party in March at Tammy’s Nails on Capitol Hill. Then, she took advantage of warmer weather at a Billy Joel concert at Nationals Park in July. Some R&R and then the Piano Man – well played!

8) Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., seemed doomed from the earliest stages of her midterm campaign, with polls consistently showing her trailing her Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy. But in the final week before the Dec. 6 runoff, Landrieu had a last dash for dough. Hillary Clinton headlined a high-dollar cocktail reception in Manhattan, and then Stevie Wonder crooned for campaign cash in New Orleans.

7) Three Republican gents danced for dollars during Justin Timberlake’s concert in D.C. New York Rep. Michael Grimm, North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson and Georgia Rep. Tom Price donned a “Suit & Tie” for the February fundraiser. (Bonus: Party Time heard that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was getting her groove on at the concert, too.)

6) As the head of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had plenty of fundraising responsibilities this year. But he seemed to really dig celebrating birthdays, throwing his own b-day bash in September with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A month later, he brought out the balloons and candles for another celebration, this one in Iowa for Gov. Terry Branstad.

5) And, speaking of celebrating a personal milestone with a campaign event, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and her husband marked their 30-year wedding anniversary in July with a fundraiser in Miami. Because nothing says “I love you” like a $1,000 political donation.

4) Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., cashed in on the “Game of Thrones” craze when his campaign raffled off a spot at a VIP reception with series creator George R. R. Martin at his personal theater in Santa Fe.

3) Like many other political watchers, Party Time kept up with the midterms madness with plenty of coffee and donuts. But we noticed an interesting trend in the two or three days prior to Election Day: some serious carbo-loading! Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro had his annual pasta and politics dinner on Nov. 2, and Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., threw a pasta party of his own the next afternoon.

2) Cheap eats for big bucks! In a nod to his Chicago-area district, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., threw a hot dog reception in February, where the street food standby went for $1,000 to $2,500. And Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., recently had his yearly pancake breakfast, where a short stack went for $1,000 to $5,000.

1) Former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., hasn’t held elected office in two years, but that hasn’t kept him off the party circuit. His leadership PAC, the Allen West Guardian Fund, is still raising and spending big bucks, according to Sunlight’s Real-Time Campaign Finance tracker. In March, West threw a weekend-long event billed as a black tie boot camp. The invite is, by far, one of Party Time’s all-time favorites.

And with that, party people, we wish you a happy holiday filled with as many parties as possible! See you in 2015!

Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.08.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Sen. Rand Paul headlines Mississippi fundraiser, more debt retirement parties and some expensive pancakes

With the holidays fast approaching and the midterms officially wrapped up after Saturday’s runoff in Louisiana, politicians seem to have their eyes squarely on their impending winter break. But before they hit the road for home, members of Congress will cram in some last minute partying this week.

And so, faithful party people, this will be the final regular post of the year for Party Time. We’ll be back after the holidays, ready as ever for all of the zany and creative ways politicians plot to bring in the campaign cash. We are confident the 114th session will be just as entertaining as its predecessors. You can do it, newbies!

In the meantime, if you know of a fundraiser in the works, you know what to do! Is it holiday themed? Does it celebrate the beginning of the new term by asking for campaign cash? Party Time wants whatever you’ve got! Have we missed any past parties? Got any late-breaking candidates for our year-end roundup (watch this space!) of faves? Upload invites on our handy (and confidential) page right here, or email us.

But before we pour some eggnog and slice up the Yule log, let’s dig into this week’s political parties.

Partying with Paul
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been interested in, if acting coy about, a run for the White House for just about forever at this point. “I’m not going to deny that I’m interested,” Paul said of the presidency way back in November 2012. Since then, Party Time has kept an eye on his strategic partying schedule, which always seems to somehow involve a trip to early voting states like Iowa or New Hampshire.

He’s looking beyond the intra-party fights of a GOP primary, too, by taking on potential general election opponents. On the night of Republicans’ across-the-board midterm victories, Paul immediately tied defeated Democrats to one Hillary Clinton, a likely fellow contender in 2016. And, to maintain that all-important cool kid street cred, he did it on Facebook. With a hashtag, no less!

Since the midterms, Paul has stayed on message, name-checking Clinton last week by referring to the ongoing instability in Libya as part of “Hillary’s war.” But he also announced he’d run for reelection in 2016, which complicates his path to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Kentucky law prevents candidates from running for two federal positions simultaneously, so running for his Senate seat would keep him off a presidential ballot – unless some fancy legal footwork allows for a still-TBD workaround.

Paul keeps up the busy bee business this week, with a trip down to Jackson on Monday for a fundraiser for the Mississippi Republican Party. It’s a state Paul carefully avoided earlier this year when a GOP family feud pitted fellow tea party insurgent Chris McDaniel against fellow Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. (Cochran eventually prevailed) Tickets to the victory lunch start at $250, but $1,000 will get you a spot at a pre-lunch reception with Paul and Gov. Phil Bryant, R-Miss.

Republicans bid adieu to campaign debt
Two new-to-the-House politicians are looking to cash in on the warm and fuzzy feelings of the holidays plus the sweet, sweet taste of victory. That’s right, folks: We’ve got another batch of wintertime debt retirement parties!

On Tuesday, Rep.-elect John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, throws a debt retirement reception at the Capitol Hill Club, where individuals are asked to chip in $500 or $1,000, and PACs are asked to fork over $1,000 or $2,500. Fellow Texan Reps. Pete Sessions and Bill Flores will be on hand to help gin up support.

From the looks of things, Ratcliffe needs all the help he can get. Ratcliffe, who beat longtime Rep. Ralph Hall in the primary in May and was unopposed in November’s general election, still has $664,300 in campaign debt, according to Sunlight’s Real-Time tracker. And a good chunk of that is money he owes himself. The attorney and former mayor of Heath, Texas, loaned his campaign a total of $685,300 in three different installments from October 2013 to June 2014, according to Real-Time.

With her campaign account just $29,529 in the red, according to Real-Time, Rep.-elect Barbara Comstock has a more manageable bottom line. But the Virginia Republican is still asking supporters for some help during a debt retirement breakfast Wednesday morning, also at the Capitol Hill Club. Because the best part of waking up is not, in fact, Folgers in your cup – it’s paying off someone else’s debt.

Ka$h for Kaine
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., isn’t up for reelection until 2018, but that’s not stopping him from throwing a high-dollar fundraiser at a Capitol Hill townhouse on Monday evening. The cocktail reception asks donors for at least $500 and as much as $5,200 to host.

It’s a more staid gathering than usual for the first-term senator. A look into Party Time’s records show that Kaine usually keeps his fundraisers fairly interesting, whether it’s a Bon Jovi concert benefiting his leadership PAC, Common Ground PAC, or his “Smoked n’ Oaked” event that’s billed as “a celebration of Virginia’s best barbecue, bourbon and beer.” We’ve got our fingers crossed that at least the latter two make an appearance during Monday’s gathering.

Pricey pancakes!
If Party Times knows anything about Sen. Patrick Leahy, it’s that this guy knows how to par-tay. The Vermont Democrat has been winning us over since we got this project started in 2008 with partying traditions that include all of our favorite things: carbo-loading Italian dinners, pancake breakfasts and ice cream socials that feature Grateful Dead cover bands, Ben & Jerry’s and Magic Hat beer. Yes, please!

On Wednesday, Leahy keeps his annual breakfast ritual going with a morning fundraiser at Capitol Hill restaurant Art & Soul. But this is no regular short stack, folks: A plate of these pricey pancakes slathered with Vermont maple syrup goes for anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

And that just about wraps up your week in political parties! What have we missed and what have you heard about? Email us the goods, or upload whatever you’ve got right here. See you in the New Year, party people!

Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.01.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Dueling fundraisers for Landrieu, Cassidy; Ready for Hillary parties on; and holiday-themed get-togethers

Hey, party people, hey! After a spat of post-midterm thank you parties and debt retirement receptions, Capitol Hill denizens took a break from the fundraising circuit for some turkey time in their home districts.

But don’t worry; Thanksgiving didn’t turn members of Congress into a bunch of softies. They are back at it this week, hitting up donors for some of that cold, hard campaign cash.

We’ve got a good number of parties on the calendar, but we are sure there are more out there. What have you heard about, PT friends? Upload invites right here, or email us the goods. (And if you know of any Thanksgiving week parties that we don’t have, send them right here!)

Let’s get to it, and dig into this week in political parties.

For the love of Louisiana
The much-ballyhooed Bayou State Senate race between Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy comes to an official close on Saturday, although talking heads have been doom and gloom for some time about Landrieu’s chances of keeping her seat. Polls consistently give the edge to Cassidy, and the Democratic Party has all but thrown in the towel by pulling ad buys in the state prior to the Dec. 6 runoff.

In addition to getting plenty of party support, the Cassidy campaign also benefits from some top-tier Republicans lending their names to campaign stops and fundraiser invites. During the past few weeks, the likes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have rallied supporters, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio headlined a fundraiser in the New Orleans area.

On Monday, Cassidy gets another batch of help from bold-named GOPers at a high-dollar fundraiser at the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s D.C. headquarters. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise are all slated to attend the event.

Landrieu will also get a pair of high-profile jolts on Monday. Stevie Wonder headlines what’s getting billed as an intimate evening with the Grammy-winning singer in New Orleans. In a press release about the fundraiser, the campaign called Wonder a “a long-time friend and supporter of Senator Landrieu’s.” Meanwhile, up in Manhattan, Hillary Clinton will throw a cocktail party for Landrieu, with tickets capping out at $12,600. Democratic party people Sarah Kovner and Victor Kovner will host the fundraiser at their home.

That makes for a busy Monday for both camps: Not only do Cassidy and Landrieu both have fundraisers, but it’s also the day of the only post-midterm/pre-runoff debate between the two.

Ready for Hillary still ready for a party (or two)
Ready for Hillary is ready to call it. The super PAC aiming to get Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016 says it will close up shop if/when the former Secretary of State decides to run for the White House, a decision she has said she plans to make at the beginning of next year. The week before the Thanksgiving break, the group’s bigwigs met in the Big Apple for a “day-long strategy meeting” to discuss details.

The super PAC might be winding down, but it is still partying with a purpose. The day before that N.Y.C. confab, the group threw one of those now-famous $20.16-per-person fundraisers at a Greenwich Village restaurant.

And this week, Ready for Hillary has two more events on the books. On Tuesday, Philadelphia lawyer and Democratic donor Leonard Barracks will host a party in the City of Brotherly Love, with tickets going for $1,000, or $5,000 for a VIP reception. Longtime Clinton buddy Harold Ickes is the event’s special guest. The next day, a similarly priced luncheon will go down in Denver, with Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Ed Perlmutter acting as “honorary hosts,” according to the invitation.

Fun in Florida
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Alex Sink, Florida’s former CFO who narrowly lost a special election in March for her state’s 13th District House seat. Four years before that, she lost the governor’s race by one percentage point to Republican Gov. Rick Scott. With two painfully close defeats in her recent past, it’s pretty understandable that she opted not to run again in November for another shot at the 13th District slot.

But Sink can’t stay out of politics completely. This week, she helps host a cocktail reception for Tampa City Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin, who is running for her second full term. Although Capin has made her mark in the Sunshine State bay with the creation of the area’s first domestic partner registry, she’s also know for spearheading the effort to make the Cuban sandwich the official sandwich of Tampa. Yes, that’s a real thing, and yes, there’s a specific recipe:

But not just any Cuban. The version of the sandwich designated Thursday as the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich” must be made with Cuban bread scored on top with a leaf from a palm frond, plus ham, mojo roast pork, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and exactly three dill pickle slices — but not mayonnaise.

It’s a recipe that evolved in Ybor City around the turn of the last century, and City Council members passed the designation as one way to celebrate and promote the city’s cultural heritage.

“I’m very pleased,” said Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin, who sponsored the idea. “It is a light-heartened resolution with a serious message. This is but one example of how we can leverage our cultural assets.”
(–From the Tampa Bay Times)

Holiday happenings
Miss the post-Thanksgiving sales and still have money burning a hole in your pocket? We know of a few politicians who have an idea of what to do with it, and wouldn’t you know, they’d like you to spend it on them.

So far, Party Time counts four holiday-themed parties this week, with the first week of December a perfect time to cash in on the winter wonderland motif.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is throwing a holiday lunch on Wednesday, with tickets going for $1,000 to $2,500. Democratic Virginia state Sen. Barbara Favola follows suit on Wednesday evening with a fundraiser at her Arlington home that promises “tasty eats and merriment,” according to the invite. On Friday, New Hampshire Republicans host a holiday dinner in Cheshire County, while the New York chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans throws its annual holiday party at the Upper East Side’s Metropolitan Republican Club.

That’s a wrap on your week in political parties, folks! What have we missed and what have you heard about? Send whatever you’ve got right here.

Photo courtesy Flickr

Uncategorized • POSTED - 11.19.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

Extra! Extra! Party Time learns Sen. Mary Landrieu to throw two D.C. fundraisers, Sen. Pat Roberts and Rep. Bob Dold to retire campaign debt, and Rep. Ken Buck to thank old donors and ask for cash from new friends

Party people, we asked and you answered! When we last checked in, this week’s social calendar was shockingly thin. We were sure it indicated that parties were still in the planning stages, not that politicos had given up on the joys of fundraising.

And, sure enough, we recently caught wind of a fistful of funders that filled out our pre-Thanksgiving break calendar. We’d like to send out a hearty huzzah to the Party Time friends who floated us the invites – thank you!

PT is always on the lookout for more fundraiser info, so if you hear of political party in the works, you know what to do! Upload invites with our confidential tool right here, or email us the goods.

And now, for your hump day reading pleasure, here are some of the latest additions to Party Time’s calendar …

Sen. Mary Landrieu: Fresh off a stinging one-vote loss on the Keystone XL pipeline bill, Sen. Mary Landrieu will hit up donors in D.C. for two fundraisers. The Louisiana Democrat’s chances of keeping her seat after the Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy look increasingly thin, with polls consistently showing Cassidy with a lead.

But Landrieu’s got her fingers crossed that an influx of cash can help to tilt the scales in her favor. On Wednesday evening, she’ll drum up support at a happy hour reception where individuals are asked to chip in $500 and PACs are asked for $1,000. On Thursday, 36(!) of her Democratic Senate colleagues will show their support during a luncheon at the Monocle Restaurant, where tickets cap out at $5,000. It may be a tense high-noon meal, seeing as a chunk of the senators listed on the invite voted against the Keystone bill on Tuesday.

And, looking ahead, Landrieu gets a hand from crooner Stevie Wonder, who will headline a New Orleans fundraiser in December.

Cassidy is getting plenty of high-profile support, too. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is slated to campaign with Cassidy this upcoming weekend in the Bayou State. And on Dec. 1, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (and possible 2016 White House contender) are headlining a shindig at the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s headquarters for the NRSC and the Cassidy campaign.

Debt be gone: Two politicians hoping that donors are feeling particularly kind are throwing debt retirement parties this week, aiming to get those campaign coffers out of the red. Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill., will have a debt retirement party Wednesday evening at City Tap House in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. And Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., follows suit on Thursday with a debt retirement reception of his own at a Capitol Hill townhouse. The invite asks individuals for upward of $2,000 to attend, and PACs for up to $5,000.

Rep. Ken Buck: Why say thank you with a card when you could throw a party and ask people for money instead? That’s the name of the game for Rep.-elect Ken Buck, R-Colo., who is having a thank you reception Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club. The invite says 2014 campaign donors can get into the get-together for free, but asks new donors to fork over $500, or $1,000 for PACs. Buck is filling the 4th District seat that opened up when Rep. (now Sen.-elect) Cory Gardner opted to run against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in one of the more closely watched Senate races this cycle.

Because we’re heading into the traditionally sleepy Thanksgiving week, party people, this will likely be our last party post until after the holiday. But of course, we will rouse ourselves from our tryptophan slumber should any of you  drop us an invite juicier than your upcoming drumstick. Got something to share besides the stuffing? Upload whatever you’ve got right here, or email us the goods.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia

Uncategorized • POSTED - 11.17.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

Party Time’s post-midterms funk, aka share those fundraiser invites!

Hello, party people! Everyone, and we mean everyone, seems to be coming down from the high of midterm mania. The District is settling into a chilly autumn, members of Congress are hunkering down for week two of their lame duck session, and President Barack Obama just returned to D.C. after a week of travel to Asia and Australia.

Party Time’s social calendar is shockingly thin after a spate of parties last week that aimed to cut down some campaign debt and welcome new faces to Capitol Hill. Sen.-elect Tom Cotton, R-Ark., threw back-to-back parties in D.C.: one billed as a “thank you event” at Bobby Van’s, and then a debt retirement reception the next day at fundraising hotspot Johnny’s Half Shell. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee had a new member meet and greet in D.C. last Thursday afternoon.

We also caught wind of a fundraiser for Garret Graves, who has his eye on Louisiana’s 6th District House seat. No post-midterms relaxation break for Graves, though; the Republican is locked in a runoff with Edwin Edwards, the former Bayou State congressman, governor and (true story!) ex-con who served eight years in federal prison for racketeering. Graves’ coffee and beignets fundraiser in D.C. was last Wednesday, and asked individuals to chip in $250 or $500, and PACs to give $1,000 or $2,000. The runoff election is scheduled for Dec. 6.

The long and the short of it, party people: We know there are shindigs happening out there! If you’ve heard about a political party in the works, send us an email. And if you’ve got your hands on an invite, please-oh-please upload it with our confidential tool right here. Help out your buddies at Party Time and share the goods!

(Photo credit: OakleyOriginals via Flickr, Creative Commons license)


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.