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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 - 02.03.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Florida funders, Pelosi in Philly, Rand Paul goes red, white and blue, and Mark Udall heads to Vail

Party people, we are just about recovered from the State of the Union – we’ve sifted through our fair share of Joe Biden memes and watched that video of Rep. Michael Grimm lose it. We’ve even made our own version of the speech with Sunlight’s State of the Union Machine.

Politicians of every stripe took advantage of the all-eyes-on-Washington week and fundraised their tails off (Sen. Mitch McConnell had morning and evening events last Wednesday; First Lady Michelle Obama told donors to “write a big fat check” at one of her four California events). The trend looks to continue into this week, with a busy social calendar for heavy-hitters in D.C., Florida and Pennsylvania, plus a swanky weekend getaway to Vail, Colo.

The schedule is busy, but we are confident there are other parties happening out there that we haven’t heard about. Know of anything good going on? Email us those invites and newspaper clippings, or use our handy-dandy (and confidential) upload feature.

And now, for some parties!

Fundraising for Florida

Florida never fails to entertain. A perpetual swing state full of close local races – not to mention the competing (and entertaining) fundraising forces of Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist – Florida will yet again compel all of politics to pay hyper-close attention.

This go-around, it’s a special election to fill the seat of the late Rep. Bill Young, who died last October. Although the Republican kept his 13 th District in the GOP column for 42 years, the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report ranks the seat as one of six “pure toss-up” races of 2014. Translation: Fasten your seatbelts.

Republicans already duked it out during a contentious primary in January. State Rep. Kathleen Peters ultimately lost to David Jolly, but not before she routinely referred to him as a lobbyist (yep) and charged that he worked in favor of President Obama’s health care law (nope). Jolly was no saint, either; according to the Tampa Bay Times, a Jolly mailer said Peters wouldn’t “take a stand” on the health care law even though she consistently said she was against it.

Things didn’t get much better after the primary. The Times reported that Peters, name-checking Jolly’s lobbying career again, wasn’t ready to endorse her party’s candidate quite yet. “Is there going to be trust there? That’s been my concern all along, and that’s where I think we’re going to be weakened,” Peters told the Times.

But just a few weeks later, and Peters is ready to belt out “Kumbaya” with the best of them. She will be partying Wednesday morning (at, yawn, 7:30 a.m.) with Jolly and virtually every other elected state-level Republican in Florida. Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida CFO Jeff Atwater, state GOP Chairman Lenny Curry and a fistful of state senators and representative are throwing their support behind Jolly at the Tallahassee reception.

That kind of across-the-board support is exactly what Alex Sink has been enjoying for months now. Democrats lined up behind their 13th District contender from the get-go, labeling her a “jumpstart” candidate, which translates into extra hands on deck for her campaign. In December, Dem leaders threw her a fundraiser in D.C., and on Wednesday evening, a similar cast of characters will party with her at the DNC’s headquarters. Tickets start at $250 for individuals and cap out at $5,000 for PACs.

Sink, Florida’s former CFO, has a significant cash advantage over Jolly. She raised more than $1 million in the last months of 2013 (including a noteworthy $1,000 contribution from Charlie Crist), and recorded a one-day haul of $31,500 earlier this month. Jolly raised $388,450 at the end of 2013, and has since brought in an additional $35,700.

Pelosi in Pennsylvania

Democratic leadership will kick in support for some of its other “jumpstart” candidates on Thursday. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., fresh off a “who-moi?” performance on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, heads to Philadelphia for a party at the Racquet Club. Three new-to-the-national-stage candidates, all hoping to turn their districts from red to blue in 2014, will benefit from the draw of Pelosi’s name at the top of the invite.

Party leadership recruited Kevin Strouse, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to run against Republican Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania’s 8th District. Another veteran, Michael Parrish, announced he was throwing his hat in the ring for Pennsylvania’s 6th District seat, which opened up when GOP Rep. Jim Gerlach said he was retiring. And in a race that has the potential to get real interesting real fast, Aimee Belgard will go head-to-head with conservative Steve Lonegan – who lost to now-Sen. Cory Booker in a special election last fall – in a race for New Jersey’s 3 rd District seat. After two terms in the House, Rep. Jon Runyan, a Republican, won’t run for reelection.

According to PT’s data, this is the first fundraiser for all three candidates. (Know of more? Send us those invites!)

Red, White and Blue – and Rand Paul

Last year, there were two official retorts to the State of the Union address – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., delivered the tea party response and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., became infamously thirsty during the Republican Party’s reaction. But for 2014, a few more people got in on the action: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., represented Republicans, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, weighed in for the tea party … and Sen. Paul spoke on behalf of, well, himself.

As the Washington Post noted, this mirrors the intense power plays going on in the GOP. But it also sheds some light on Paul’s political aspirations – and potential strategies – as he blends his libertarian bona fides with a growing appeal among conservatives. He may have started out as a long-shot candidate, but he’s gaining steam as a viable 2016 contender. Other things that keep up that kind of chatter: last year’s fundraising stops in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina (hey, key primary states, hey).

On Wednesday, Paul will deliver the keynote at the American Principles Project’s Red, White & Blue Gala at D.C.’s Mayflower Hotel. The benefit for the conservative nonprofit – board members include National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher and leading Catholic scholar Robert P. George – will allow Paul to beef up his social conservative street cred. He may even weigh in on the hot topic of immigration, especially seeing as American Principles recently launched an initiative to gin up support for immigration reform among conservatives.

Udall hits the slopes

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., had a tough week. After the State of the Union, he fumbled with questions about campaigning with President Obama during Udall’s upcoming reelection fight. And a few days later, he learned his son was arrested and charged with heroin possession and trespassing. Sounds like he could use a breather.

It’s perfect(ish) timing, then, that Udall cruises over to Vail on Friday for a weekend retreat benefiting his leadership PAC, Peak PAC. We first heard of the funder in December, when Peak was having a breakfast event in D.C. Do you have more details to share? Email us what you’ve heard about.

Whew, party people, what a week. There’s a lot going on, but we bet there’s more happening that we haven’t heard about. Keep us in the loop – send those invites and save the dates our way!

Photo credit:

Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.27.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Ready for Hillary in Florida, Philly; McCain preps for 2016; Michelle Obama fundraises in California

Good morning, partiers! We are coming off a quiet week here in Washington, save for a star-studded dance party for the First Lady’s 50th birthday (Magic Johnson! Michael Kors! Mary J. Blige! Beyonce!). But things gear up, starting today, as Congress returns to Capitol Hill and the president preps for his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Let’s get down to business, folks.

Democrats are a force to be reckoned with this week, with Michelle Obama headlining fundraisers in California, Hillary Clinton backers coming out in Florida and Pennsylvania, and Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., celebrating the Asian Lunar New Year in D.C. Not to be outdone, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will have a D.C. fundraiser of his own as he readies his 2016 campaign.

But we can’t help but think that there’s a big gap on our social calendar – we haven’t heard of a single Super Bowl-related political party! As fans of the Broncos and Seahawks dig into chicken wing platters and bowls of chips and dip on Sunday, we find it hard to believe that the Colorado and Washington state delegations won’t be taking advantage and hosting a fundraiser or two. Heck, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., are the two most recent chairs of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which means they definitely know how to throw a good party. Know of any Super Bowl funders going on? Let us know here. (And to our Colorado- and Washington-based readers: Any local or state politicians partying for football and funds? Upload any invites or newspaper clippings here.)

Happy New Year! Now fork over the cash.

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., gets the party started this week with a Monday evening fundraiser to celebrate the Asian Lunar New Year. Want to ring it in at the Democratic National Committee HQ on South Capitol Street? Tickets start at $500 per person, or range from $1,000 to $5,000 for PACs.

She’ll need to start stockpiling (PT only has record of one Meng fundraiser) for her reelection campaign, and quickly. Rumors continue to swirl that John Liu – former N.Y.C. comptroller and recent mayoral candidate – may put up a primary challenge for Meng’s seat.

Incidentally, earlier this month, the freshman congresswoman introduced a bill to make the Lunar New Year a school holiday. It’s similar to legislation Meng attempted to get through New York’s State Assembly in 2009 and 2011, when she represented Flushing, Queens.

Hillary’s ready-and-waiting money machine

Ready for Hillary continues its stampede across the U.S. to raise money for H. Clinton as she continues to hem and haw about running for president. (And we are just on the edge of our seats – she said she’d decide sometime this year.) Like everyone else, PT is keeping an eye on Clinton’s continuously hectic travel schedule, not to mention Priorities USA Action’s recent announcement that it officially backs a Clinton candidacy and will start collecting cash for her.

While Priorities focuses on bringing in mega-donations from mega-donors, Ready for Hillary has capped individual contributions at $25,000, a lot of money in the real world, but chump change in the super PAC fundraising world. And this week, Ready for Hillary hosts two of the smaller-dollar fundraising events the group is known for.

On Monday night, it’s $25 per person to hit up a fundraiser at the St. Petersburg Marriott. Former Clinton White House adviser Craig T. Smith will pop by, making this his third Ready for Hillary event. And on Thursday, it’s $20.16 to attend a funder at Philadelphia’s G Lounge, with former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

McCain Money

John McCain is keeping us on our toes. Turns out, the Arizona Republican is going for Senate term number six in 2016.

Back in October, he said he was “seriously thinking about” running for reelection, and in December, he had a $1,000 to $5,200 per person event at Manhattan’s St. Regis, a high-roller hotspot.

Since then, McCain has weighed in on Florida’s 13th District congressional race, endorsing Republican David Jolly over Democratic candidate Alex Sink, and said President Obama is worse than Jimmy Carter. And last week, McCain delivered his signature dose of sarcasm during a Senate nomination hearing for an ambassador to Norway (which is gaining a lot of traction since the nominee, George Tsunis, is a big-time bundler for Obama, and the prez has a habit of tossing cushy ambassador posts to his major donors).

On Tuesday evening, right before the State of the Union, McCain will be hobnobbing at Johnny’s Half Shell, asking donors for at least $1,000 each to help get him reelected. According to the invite, he’d be “delighted” to see you there.

Dems go big in California

Michelle Obama may be calling herself “50 and fabulous,” but Democrats are thinking more along the lines of “50 and fabulous and fundraising.” They are dispatching her to California this week to headline four events.

On Wednesday, the First Lady makes good on a fundraising stop canceled in October due to the government shutdown. Obama will head to the L.A. home of “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Philip Rosenthal and his actress wife, Monica Horan, for a $1,000 to $32,400 per person fundraiser. On Thursday, she doubles up in San Francisco with two DNC fundraisers. And on Friday, Obama will be at a Women’s Lunch with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at downtown S.F.’s Fairmont Hotel. Ready those checkbooks!

That’s the rundown for this week, party people. Let us know what we are missing – upload invites here, send us an email or connect with us on Twitter. Party on!

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.20.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Sen. Dick Durbin goes to California, Rep. Mike Coffman raises cash in Colorado

Hey, party people, hey. It’s Monday, it’s a long weekend, it’s cold out; members of Congress have left D.C. and are back in their home districts for the week. We’ve got a lot going against us, but Party Time is still going strong, hunting for fundraisers and keeping track of the politicians and lobbyists who attend them.

Although the absence of lawmakers makes this a slim week on our social calendar, but we have high hopes things will pick up. Last week, for example, started out with a usual-suspects smattering of events and developed into a blockbuster fundraiser-palooza. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., hit up well-heeled business leaders in Atlanta, Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., had a funder that he limited to four attendees (which feels like a new – and bizarre – tactic for raising money), and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., had a cocktail reception at D.C.’s Bistro Bis.

And we can’t forget about Gov. Chris Christie’s Florida swing over the weekend. In a whirlwind tour on Saturday, the New Jersey governor hopscotched to Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Orlando in a bid to raise money for fellow Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott, running for reelection in 2014 and a formidable fundraiser in his own right, is suffering from low approval ratings at home and must’ve been counting on the added star power of Christie – the everyman governor and newly minted head of the Republican Governors Association – to help bring in even more dough. But as the Fort Lee/George Washington Bridge scandal continues to brew at home, Christie brought more baggage than usual.

As political talking heads wonder if Christie is still a big-time donor draw, a good barometer of the traffic jam’s reverberations was most likely a dinner on Sunday in the Sunshine State. Billed as a casual combo of conversation, cocktails and football on the big screen, the dinner was a chance for Christie to hobnob with deep-pocketed GOP donors. Technically, it wasn’t a fundraiser, according to the event’s host, Home Depot founder Ken Langone, but intimate gatherings like this rarely end without at least the promise of a check in the mail.

We learned of a lot of these events because you, faithful partiers, slipped us the invite. So, as you hear of more fundraisers – especially those local ones happening while your elected representatives are back at home for the week – send them our way! Upload them here, or shoot us an email.

Moran heads out

Rep. James Moran, D-Va., announced last week that he was hanging up his hat and retiring from Congress after serving more than 20 years. PT was surprised by the announcement, seeing as Moran was hitting up donors into October of last year. He even had a fundraising luncheon scheduled for this Thursday, but we learned it got scuttled the same day he announced his retirement.

Although Moran planned some fairly run-of-the-mill fundraisers (luncheon here, wine tasting there), PT will still miss the congressman, mostly for his well-documented outbursts and tantrums. Remember that time when he slugged a fellow congressman on the House floor? Or when he grabbed an 8-year-old boy in an Alexandria parking lot?

Durbin in sunny SoCal

Looking for some dough to cushion that reelection fight in the fall? Does Mother Jones tag you as a “top Senate liberal”? If so, it only makes sense to head to the deep blue ATM that is California, where Dems from across the country travel to cash in on wealthy, left-leaning donors.

Our records show Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., usually sticks to D.C.-area fundraisers. Come Monday, he’s taking advantage of the long weekend and making his way to Los Angeles for an event at the home of Jamie and Chuck Meyer. Hey SoCal-ers: Know any more details? Let us know!

Colorado cash

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., is up for reelection this year, and he’s already gotten creative with fundraising, like in December when he told donors he’d do a pushup for every dollar raised. On Thursday, he’ll be going the more traditional route with a country club reception in Englewood.

In 2012, Coffman narrowly bested his Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Joe Miklosi. This time around, he’ll face Andrew Romanoff, the former speaker in Colorado’s House of Representatives. It looks to be a competitive race again, especially considering the shifting demographics in the 6th District. Coffman, who was once an immigration hardliner, for example, softened his approach last February.

Dollars for D.C.’s Tommy Wells

Current D.C. City Council member Tommy Wells is running for mayor of the nation’s capital, and that’s going to require some serious fundraising. Thursday evening, he’ll be hitting up donors at a cocktail reception hosted by banker and lawyer folks.

Wells made headlines last week for passing a bill that would lower the fine – from $100 to $25 – for pot possession in the District. It’ll be interesting to see how this move impacts Wells’ popularity, or if it will become a bellwether issue in the race, especially considering a recent Washington Post poll that showed D.C. residents now favor legalizing pot by 63 percent.

That rounds out our week, partiers. As always, let us know what you’ve heard is happening out there!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.13.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Crist, Scott fundraise in Florida and Grimes goes to SoCal

Morning, partiers! It’s a good Monday around here in Party Time land – Congress’s social calendar is heating up. Lawmakers are shaking off the holiday break, warming up after the polar vortex and getting down to business … the business of fundraising, that is.

This week, the two candidates vying to be Florida’s next governor continue their flurry of fundraising, while Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes heads to California for a Hollywood execs-hosted event. Plus, Ready for Hillary has a dance party, a New Jersey Senate candidate gets some help from Gov. Chris Christie and Wednesday’s Wizards/Heat game plays host to funders for two politicians (whose home states are neither the District nor Florida, by the way).

Although we learned of some good parties this week, we know there’s more happening out there. Know of anything good going on? Let us know: Upload official invites here, or email us any details or rumblings you’ve heard.

Florida fundraising frenzy

Last week, we reported that Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist made the most of their visits to California, squeezing in some fundraising while watching Florida State University win at the Rose Bowl in one of the more exciting college football championship games in recent memory. Scott and Crist, both hoping to be Florida’s next governor, are back in their home state, each with fundraisers this week.

In yet another development in Crist’s Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat story, his Monday night fundraiser is organized by a handful of the Sunshine State’s gay elite. Last May, Crist announced his support for marriage equality in Florida, a shift from 2008, when, as the state’s governor, he supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In December, Crist went a step further, apologizing for his support of the amendment and telling gay news outlet Watermark Online, “I’m sorry I did that. It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”

Looks like it did the trick. Brad Grosberg and Phil Kean will host Crist at their home for the 6 p.m. reception. Another host is gay Democratic operative Bob Poe, former Florida Democratic Party chairman, Central Florida finance chair for Obama’s 2012 reelection, and chair of (and initial donor to) Crist’s political committee, Charlie Crist for Florida. Tickets for Monday’s shindig start at $250 and go up to $10,000.

Scott is cashing in on some well-connected contacts of his own for a fundraiser Wednesday evening at the home of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus (please note the golf-themed invitation). Tickets to the private dinner go for $10,000 and benefit Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work.

Christie brings in cash

Steve Lonegan is back! The conservative former mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, may have lost in the October special election to now-Sen. Cory Booker, but he recently announced he’s running for a House seat representing South Jersey. Rep. Jon Runyan is retiring this year and Lonegan is throwing his hat into the ring.

The Lonegan camp is putting together a $1,000-per-person reception on Thursday with New Jersey Reps. Scott Garrett, Rodney Frelinghuysen and Leonard Lance, as well as Gov. Chris Christie. No word if bridge-gate/Fort Lee fiasco/other TBD traffic scandal-related shorthand will keep the governor from the event.

Grimes heads back to SoCal

In her quest for Kentucky’s Senate seat, Alison Lundergan Grimes has skipped across the U.S. in her hunt for campaign cash and bold-named endorsements. On Monday, she’ll benefit from both when she hobnobs with Hollywood heavyweights at a SoCal fundraiser.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation CEO and Democratic super-donor (and co-founder of a little something called Priorities USA, the super PAC that aided Obama’s reelection efforts), is at the top of a list of high-powered hosts for Monday night’s event. He has called the Grimes-McConnell race “pivotal” and asked his well-heeled friends to chip in for the Democrat. Steve and Nikki Lafferty – he a managing partner at the Creative Artists Agency, she an animal activist at Animal Aid USA – will host the event at their L.A. home.

Ready for Hillary? Ready for dancing?

Organizers behind the Ready for Hillary PAC have been trying to prove the wide appeal of the former Secretary of State, throwing fundraisers with supporters in Texas, Florida, California, New York, Arkansas and the District. On Wednesday, D.C.’s gay community is getting in on the fun, hosting an “Out & Ready for Hillary” funder at Town Danceboutique. Like most of the other Ready for Hillary events, tickets go for $20.16.

Party Time first heard of the event back in December, but since then, organizers have added a bit of within-the-community star power, bringing on the plaintiffs from the Proposition 8 trial and one of the actresses from the early-2000s show “Queer as Folk.”

The event runs from 7 to 9 p.m., and although there’s no word on a deejay, this is happening at a giant dance space. We suggest dressing accordingly.

Heat vs. Wizards, Jeffries vs. Blumenthal

Over here at PT, we always get a kick out of oddball fundraisers and the creative (and multiple) ways politicians try to raise cash. Last week, we nodded along knowingly when Roll Call reported that lobbyists get inundated with various invites to political fundraisers. (Speaking of which, if you are one such lobbyist, feel free to send us those invites before tossing them! Our upload process is painless and confidential, we promise.)

We file basketball games and spring training weekend getaways as examples of such creative fundraising ploys. And although they are always popular ways for politicians to raise money, usually the pols rely on some home state sports loyalty to entice donors. But not so on Wednesday, when Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., each have fundraisers at the Verizon Center during the Miami Heat/Washington Wizards game. Jeffries is asking for $1,500 to $5,000 to join him, while Blumenthal wants $2,500 for one ticket or $5,000 for a pair. That might be because he’s a senator, or maybe because he’s a former heartthrob. (For some perspective on those prices, tickets to a Wizards game can go for as low as $4.98, or $33 when matching up against a more star-studded team like Miami.)

That’s it for this week, partiers. As we get back into the fundraising swing of things, keep us in mind as you get those invites and send them our way!

Photo redit:

2014 elections Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.06.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

Extra! Extra! PT Roundup, Pt. II: Florida, football, fundraising

Earlier today, Political Party Time reported on a slow start to the 2014 fundraising calendar. But we just learned of a development involving football, Florida and fundraising, and had to share with you, faithful partiers.

Turns out Republican Gov. Rick Scott and newly minted Democrat Charlie Crist – who both want another four year lease on the Governor’s Mansion (Crist served as the Sunshine State’s Republican governor before Scott)– are taking advantage of state excitement over Monday’s BCS National Championship. The candidates will be in sunny SoCal for the Florida State University vs. Auburn game, and are banking on deep pockets and home-state pride to raise some cash for their competing campaigns.

Along with state Reps. Steve Crisafulli and Will Weatherford, Scott attended a $25,000-per-person luncheon Sunday for Florida’s state House GOP candidates. Tonight, Scott and his wife, Ann, are throwing a pre-kickoff fundraiser in a luxury box at the Rose Bowl, with tickets going for $50,000 per couple. (And before he headed out West, looks like Scott managed to squeeze in a $15,000-per-person quail hunt in Greenville on Saturday.)

On the other side of the aisle, Crist will be fêted at a lunch Tuesday in L.A., with entertainment industry execs playing host.

Florida State is favored to win tonight, but who will win the fundraising matchup?

Photo credit:

2014 elections Uncategorized • POSTED - 01.06.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

Happy New Year! Let’s get this party started!

Hello, partiers, and Happy New Year! As the resident professional party patrollers, we hope you imbibed your fair share of bubbly and munched on plenty of toothpick-speared apps (the edible kind, technophiles!) during the holiday break.

As Congress meanders back to Capitol Hill, Party Time is worried, seriously worried that about our solons’ hangovers. The first full week of 2014  is shaping up to be a slow one on the party circuit.

Could the lawmakers be partied out? Naaaah, we can see partying times ahead on our social calendar. Perhaps they feel it might be a tad unseemly to be hitting the cocktails and canape trail while they’re busy playing the Grinch to all those unemployed folks.

Fulfilling the stereotype of the City That Never Sleeps, our main events this week are brought to us by a couple of intrepid New Yorkers. One of them is state Sen. Lee Zeldin, who’s vying for the GOP nomination in his state’s easternmost congressional district, the far tip of Long Island. Incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop is a perennial target, but so far has managed to hold onto his seat, sometimes by a fingernail. Zeldin, meanwhile, who hosts a campaign kickoff this week, is facing a primary against self-funded attorney George Demos. He already loaned his campaign $1 million and now is claiming to have better than $2 million in his campaign kitty, most of provided by himself (or his relatives, according to the spec reported by Newsday).  Zeldin, meanwhile, has the support of the Empire State’s Republican establishment; he’ll be featured Monday night at a forum hosted by Fox News commentator Mallory Factor.

C’mon. Is New York the only place that’s partying this week? We are convinced there’s more going on out there. Let us know what you’ve heard about.

Meanwhile, to tide you over, we’d like to remind you of PT’s 2013 year in review. And don’t forget about our handy playlist that features songs from this year’s crop of fundraising concerts. It’s got a little something for everyone, from Fleetwood Mac to Taylor Swift to Beyonce. And, of course, a nice ka-ching-a-ling-ling theme.

While our New Year’s resolutions over here are optimistic at best (eat healthier, exercise more, etc.), we’ve got one for you that is easy to keep: Send us any and all party invites! Our upload process is painless, and you’ll be letting us know who’s hot and who’s not on the campaign trail, plus helping us maintain this robust database of more than 18,000 events. Click here to get started.

Until next time, partiers!

Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.30.13 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Roundup: 2013 year in review, oddball parties edition

Hey, did somebody say party?

Yeah, we told you we were done for the year but as everybody togs up to say ta-ta to 2013, Party Time just had to get into the action. We’ve already given you our swell all-about-the-cash playlist. Now, as the old year winds down, we decided to indulge in our own version of Auld Lang Syne: a look back at the top 13 weirdest political fundraisers we heard about this year. (Got one that beats these? You know what to do.)

In no particular order:

- Remember that time when Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., had a target practice fundraiser where people were encouraged to “bring your own gun”?

- In September, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., invited supporters to a weekend of Cajun cooking, a swamp tour and an alligator hunt.

- Not to be outdone, Florida Gov. Rick Scott tried to host his own gator hunt in October (with tickets at $25,000 per person!). The Republican ended up canceling his event when questions came up about hunting licenses.

- Brian Nieves, a state senator in Missouri, had a fundraiser that incorporated an AR-15 giveaway.

- Along the same lines, Don Dwyer, a member of Maryland’s House of Delegates, raffled off an AK-47 and an AR-15 in May, with raffle tickets going for 5 bucks. Dwyer’s serving a part-time jail sentence, BTW (in between legislating — we kid you not) but, relax partiers: It has nothing to do with the gun funder.

- Although she ended up canceling, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., originally planned a “low-dollar breakfast” in the Big Apple in October. We never got specifics for ticket prices, but trust us: “low” is in the eye of the beholder.

- Only in Washington, kids: Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., had a “Non-Industry Specific Luncheon” in March.

- The Fund for a Conservative Future, along with Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, had a reception and Mountain Man Dinner at the always rustic, reminds-us-of-the-outdoors Acadiana. (For example, here’s what’s for dinner.)

- Bowling with Stephen Colbert. ’Nuff said.

- Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod wanted to meet you, greet you, and then be your Valentine at her Feb. 14 fundraiser. (Oh, and also take your money – tickets went for $500 to $5,000 a pop.)

- Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., cashed in on his Hollywood connections and raffled off a brunch with Conan O’Brien at the late-night host’s house.

- During his successful run for N.Y.C. mayor, Bill de Blasio used the power of Susan Sarandon – and pingpong! – to raise money for his campaign.

- Illinois State Representative Barbara Wheeler took advantage of the June weather and had a Teeni Weeni Bikini Martini Party. The tagline? “Families Welcome, Donations Appreciated, Bikinis Recommended!”

If we got all this in 2013, imagine what an election year is going to bring! See you at the parties, folks. Happy New Year!!

Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.16.13 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Roundup: Beyonce, Breakfast, and Scott Brown

Hello partiers, and happy snowy December! Did we mention Beyonce’s coming to town? And a few lawmakers are sticking around for the fun(draising)?

As Congress winds down this unproductive year, we’ve had a few recent end o’ the year surprises, like a budget deal passing the House and heading to the Senate. In the midst of that development, one of the budget’s primary architects, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., even managed to pop down to sunny Florida for two fundraisers. Now that’s multitasking, folks.

But the whirlwind of holiday-themed parties of the last few weeks is coming to a close, meaning this, faithful partiers, is our last Party Time roundup of 2013. Did we mention Beyonce is coming? It’s been a crazy year, from a “Bring Your Own Gun” fundraiser with Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., to the government shutdown shutting down some – but not all – parties, to a Taylor Swift concert bringing in some campaign cash for Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky. And of course . . . Beyonce!

As politicians head to their home districts, dreaming of sugar plum fairies and humming seasonal songs, we know they are hoping Santa brings them lumps of cash, not coal. Over here at Party Time, all we want for Christmas is Beyo–ok, for you to send us more party invites! Toss anything you’ve got here, and yes, we know we are the easiest people to shop for on your list.

Before we totally close up shop, the good news is a few brave pols are still partying this week. Check out what’s on tap …

Beyonce. Need we say more?
What with his California district encompassing the celebrity-spotting hotspot of Los Angeles, Rep. Adam Schiff knows the pull of a bold-named special guest. Enter Queen Bey.

That’s right – on the heels of her surprise album release last week, Beyonce is hitting up D.C.’s Verizon Center Wednesday night, with a fistful of fresh songs (and, we’re assuming, new, big dance numbers). Schiff is hoping the promise of multiple costume changes and, well, Beyonce will get you to shell out some cash for his 2014 campaign. But tickets aren’t cheap, friends: Get ready to drop $2,500 for one ticket, or $4,000 for two.

And Bey isn’t the only heavy-hitter of the evening. Defense contractor Raytheon’s PAC is hosting Schiff’s fundraiser. According to our Influence Explorer data, Raytheon gives loads in campaign donations and spends a chunk on lobbying. Records in our Party Time database also show that Schiff is one of only two Democrats who’ve benefitted from a Raytheon-hosted party.

And this just in! We recently learned that Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, is hopping on the Beyonce train. Sessions, who early last week got a Democratic challenger in his 2014 race, will have a fundraiser of his own at Wednesday’s concert. Tickets are a steal when you sit with Sessions, at $1,000 per person or $2,500 for PACs.

Turns out Republicans and Democrats can agree on one thing – Beyonce does run the world.

Booker and Bennet Breakfast at the Bistro
Bistro Cacao will be a hub of Democratic fundraising come Tuesday and Wednesday. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado are each throwing breakfast funders there, aiming to bring in some campaign cash over cappuccinos and croissants.

Fortunately for Booker, his 24-hour fast in solidarity with immigration activists was last week. So, barring a same-sex wedding that needs officiating or a driveway that needs shoveling, Booker should be chowing down with supporters at Bistro Cacao Tuesday morning.

And after attending a string of fundraisers benefitting various Democratic Party campaign committees, Bennet is having a party of his own Wednesday morning. From our records at Party Time, this looks to be Bennet’s first funder since February, which isn’t all that surprising since he’s been heading up the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2013-14 cycle. Welcome back to the party circuit!

Scott Brown keeps us on our toes
Will he or won’t he? Scott Brown, former Massachusetts senator (and model), has been toying with a run in New Hampshire’s 2014 Senate race, which would pit him against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. He’s headlining the New Hampshire GOP’s Holiday Party Thursday night, further stoking speculation of what a Brown campaign would look like in the Granite State.

One thing’s for sure – people on both sides of the aisle already have strong opinions about Brown’s candidacy, even though he hasn’t officially announced anything. The New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, a gun-rights advocacy organization, is asking its members to attend a protest at Thursday’s dinner, while the state’s Democrats kicked off an anti-Brown ad campaign last Wednesday.

If you’re interested in attending – and braving some protesters – get ready to throw down between $50 and $2,500 for a ticket.

Lenard goes long for campaign cash
After a failed primary bid in 2012 against Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Brenda Lenard is trying again, this time running to unseat Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in 2014. On Friday, she heads to California to bring in some big-time cash at a dinner at the home of big-time football star Terrell Owens. The Tennessean reported in September that Owens and Lenard had never met, and that Owens was paid to attend.

That’s it for this week, partiers. See you in the New Year! (And, until then, if you hear of any fundraisers, let us know.)

Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.11.13 BY Palmer Gibbs

Sandy Hook hasn’t dampened politicians’ enthusiasm for gun fundraisers

Guns, politicians and parties? It has been a winning combination on the campaign fundraising trail. Despite the tragedy at Sandy Hook and subsequent reopening of the debate over gun control, that still appears to be true.

Last year, we looked at all of our fundraising data and found that since 2006, just shy of 70 lawmakers threw upwards of 110 events that somehow incorporated guns. Not surprisingly, the National Rifle Association – the country’s primary gun rights advocacy organization – provided  a popular Capitol Hill venue for Republicans and Democrats alike wanting to have a laser shootout-themed event. This is the one area where the gun partying appears to have pooped out. Although we counted 21 events at Southeast D.C. address since 2006, Party Time got only one early 2012 invitation to a party there, and it ended up getting canceled. Party Time has nothing at that location for 2013. Of course the NRA may still be hosting fundraisers, and the invitations are simply not finding their way to our database. If you have the scoop, please let us know about such events.)

But gun-loving politicians have found other venues to express themselves this year. Coming through the 2013 archives, Party Time found 14 fundraisers involving guns, all in the great outdoors.

MORE: Sunlight’s coverage of the Sandy Hook anniversary .

Both of Idaho’s Republican senators, Jim Risch and Mike Crapo (via his Freedom Fund leadership PAC), had skeet shooting fundraisers this summer at the Prince George’s County Trap & Skeet Center in Maryland.

Risch also had an Idaho-based hunting trip in January. The invite promised a long weekend full of events with a world champion shooter, a world champion duck caller and hunting with a former Navy SEAL.

More recently, Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., put on an afternoon of target practice with pistols and rifles where attendees were encouraged to “bring your own gun.” Event organizers recommended leaving shotguns at home, but were willing to provide firearms for people who didn’t bring their own goods.

Two southern state politicians took advantage of their natural surroundings by planning alligator hunts for deep-pocketed donors. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., threw a $5,000-per-person Louisiana Bayou Weekend in September that featured a swamp tour and alligator hunt. And Florida Gov. Rick Scott followed suit in October with a $25,000-per-person Gator Hunt. But Scott scratched it once concerns about alligator hunting licenses came up (and after the event lit up social media).

Less menacing creatures were also on the hunting schedule this year. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, had his annual dove hunt in Hondo, and a $1,500 contribution earned individuals the designation of “host” of the event as well as entry into the raffle for a shotgun. A Pheasant Shoot benefiting Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., went down in March in Maryland. And Rep. Steve King, R-Texas, took to Twitter to celebrate a day of “successful” pheasant hunting with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during an October funder.

Del. Don Dwyer, who claims to be one of the most conservative members of the Maryland House of Delegates (and is certainly one of the most controversial, as he is currently serving a jail term for two incidents of driving–in one case driving a boat–while intoxicated), put on a gun raffle fundraiser in May. Raffle tickets went for $5 each, and people were limited to buying 10 tickets. The prize? An AR-15 or an AK-47.

Along the same lines, Missouri State Sen. Brian Nieves held a sports shooting and rifle raffle fundraiser in October. A Sig Sauer 516 Patrol AR-15 was up for grabs for attendees contributing at least $100.

While these politicians successfully use weekend hunts and target practice to fill up their campaign coffers, advocates on the other side of the issue, such as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and former Rep. Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions – don’t show up in our records as frequently.

According to Party Time’s data, Bloomberg hosted three fundraisers this year at his N.Y.C. home (two benefiting Cory Booker’s run for the New Jersey Senate seat and one for Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va.) but none were tied directly to his advocacy group–that we know of. As for Giffords, we counted two fundraisers for her Americans for Responsible Solutions: a Young Professionals Reception in February and a raffle for a lobster dinner in Maine with Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly.

(Contributing: Peter Olsen-Phillips; Photo: iStockPhoto)

Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.09.13 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: ‘Tis the season for politicians to party hard for campaign cash

Hello partiers! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and what better way to celebrate than with a political fundraiser or two?

That’s certainly on Congress’s mind this week, even if it’s just a distraction from yet another looming budget battle. In fact, the Republican leader of the budget negotiations, Rep. Paul Ryan, will start out the week shaking the (palm) trees for cash in the Sunshine State. According to St. Petersblog, Ryan will breakfast Monday in the Orlando area with Republican supporters and members of Congress at the home of Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. The same day, Ryan is also slated to headline a $500-per-person fundraiser for Rep. Steve Southerland in Panama City, Fla.

This week’s social calendar is all sorts of busy, but we know there’s more going on out there. What are we missing? Send those invites/email blasts/stories (and pics!) right here.

Fundraising swing with Carl

The week of Thanksgiving, we pointed out how the partier-in-chief, a.k.a. President Barack Obama, was going on a fundraising tear along the West Coast, headlining seven parties in three days in Seattle and California. Party Time is similarly impressed with Carl DeMaio’s upcoming cross-country fundraising spree. (Hey, it’s hard work and somebody’s got to do it.)

DeMaio, a gay fiscal conservative whose campaign materials tout him as a “new generation Republican,” served on the San Diego City Council for one term before losing to former Rep. Bob Filner in the 2012 mayor’s race (and we all know how that turned out). But DeMaio isn’t interested in jumping into the special election to replace the scandal-plagued Filner; instead, DeMaio is looking to oust Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in 2014.

The San Diego race will be one to watch, and DeMaio is viewed as a potential star within the GOP. But last week, Politico reported a dustup within the party about whether or not the National Republican Congressional Committee should throw its support – and dollars – behind gay candidates.

But that’s not stopping DeMaio from hitting up the fundraising circuit: PT counts 25 scheduled fundraisers for DeMaio from June 2013 to next February, including this week’s tour. After hosting a champagne brunch at his San Diego home over the weekend, DeMaio hops over to Dallas for an evening reception on Monday. Then it’s off to New York City on Tuesday for a Log Cabin Republican event with fellow gay GOP candidate Richard Tisei, who is running to unseat Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass. And on Wednesday, DeMaio hits up D.C. donors with an evening reception.

Busy morning at Hotel George

The Hotel George is a popular fundraising spot – it’s swanky, it’s within spitting distance of the Capitol, and it’s getting a makeover. Come Wednesday morning, it’s the site of two separate breakfast fundraisers for Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Ill., and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.

Enyart recently made it official that he’d be running for reelection in 2014, but our Party Time data and Real-Time filings indicate he never really stopped raising campaign cash since arriving on the Hill earlier this year. On Wednesday, he’ll benefit from the fundraising pull of Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, who is the “special guest” at the $1,000-plus breakfast.

That’s also the price tag for Speier’s funder, happening at the same time and at the same place. We suggest checking out what the Northern California native orders at her Winter Wonderland Breakfast Reception – in September, she brought a cooked steak, a bottle of vodka and a can of caviar to the House floor during a speech about food stamps and congressional food and travel expenses. Know what’s on the menu Wednesday, or any other good details? Share here.

Meeting up with Mitch

On Monday night, Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell is slated to attend an evening reception at the Bethesda home of Bruce and Leslie Lane. The event is billed as a “Washington Area Pro-Israel Reception” and lists 15 new-to-PT hosts.

The Kentucky Republican is fending off tea party challenger Matt Bevin in the primary as well as looking ahead to the general election, most likely against the well-funded Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Bluegrass and big bucks

Sen. Mark Warner is throwing a Bluegrass & BBQ Bash on Monday evening at Hill Country BBQ in downtown D.C. because, you know, nothing says “country” quite like 7th and D streets.

Tickets start at $50 for the fundraiser benefiting the Virginia Democrat’s 2014 reelection campaign. Although Warner remains popular and isn’t facing numerous challengers, he’s still shoring up support. Ken Cuccinelli, who recently lost the Virginia governor’s race to Terry McAuliffe, told the Washington Post it would be “tempting” to run against Warner next year. Expect plenty more barbecue if that comes to fruition.

Holiday happenings with Allen West

Florida’s fiery conservative Allen West may not be running for office, but he’s not far from the fundraising game. On Friday night at St. Jude Catholic Church in Boca Raton, the former GOP congressman headlines a holiday party, complete with a buffet dinner and holiday music. Proceeds from the $75-per-person event (or $1,000 to sit at West’s table) go to his namesake foundation. (And if this video is any indication, you are in for a rollicking good time.)

West’s leadership PAC, which works to elect more conservatives “in the same vein as Allen West,” also continues to rake in the dough, bringing in more than $1.3 million during the first half of this year. The PAC recently backed four candidates for the 2014 races, and 10 more endorsements are expected.

Florida football fun

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., is betting a sports fan or two will plunk down some serious cash for a weekend-long retreat to watch the Dolphins-Patriots game with him. This isn’t the first time Deutch has spiced up a fundraising event; although he’s had his fair share of receptions and luncheons, he also hit up a Heat-Wizards game a few years ago and a Pink concert at the Verizon Center last spring.

What else is happening out there, partiers? Keep us posted.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


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.