Today is February 11th
Documenting the Political Partying Circuit
From the early hours of the morning until late in the evening, politicians are partying. Sunlight's PARTY TIME can help you find out who is partying, where and when.


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2016 elections • POSTED - 02.20.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

Sen. Joni Ernst headlines Arizona fundraiser for Sen. John McCain’s 2016 campaign

Sen. John McCain takes advantage of Congress’ district work period this week with a fundraiser on Friday in his home state. The Arizona Republican will throw a high-dollar party in Scottsdale for his 2016 campaign, which would find him running for a sixth term in the Senate.

Party organizers are calling the fundraiser a “winning women luncheon,” and a look at the bold-named lady attendees on the invite certainly drives home the idea. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst – a conservative darling since she shot onto the national stage last year with her memorable hog castration-themed TV ad about cutting government spending – gets top billing on the invitation along with McCain. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is listed as an honorary host, as are Angela Ducey (wife of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey), Cheryl Flake (wife of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake) and McCain’s wife, Cindy.

Two other Arizona heavyweights are lending their support on Friday. Phoenix-based lobbyist Deb Gullett and Rodel Foundation President Jackie Norton are co-chairing the event. Gullett has deep ties to McCain, having worked as his chief of staff in D.C. and logging time on his presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2008. She also served in the Arizona House for four years, and now is a lobbyist with Gallagher & Kennedy. Although Norton now leads the Rodel Foundation, an education advocacy organization, she was the head of the Arizona Department of Commerce for five years under former Govs. Fife Symington and Jane Dee Hull. She’s also got a Gallagher & Kennedy connection, where she used to practice law.

Tickets start at $200 per plate for Friday’s lunch, and $500 will get you a spot at the 11 a.m. “VIP photo opportunity.” But in order to get added to that all-important host committee list, be prepared to throw down $10,000.

Although he hasn’t made it official yet, all signs point to McCain mounting another run for his Senate seat, which he’s held since the mid ’80s. Back in November, he told Politico, “There’s no reason for me to make a final decision right now,” and just last month he told reporters he’s “most likely” going to run.

McCain’s partying ways indicate the same storyline. Party Time records show he’s been collecting cash for his own campaign coffers as well as partying with other influential Republicans. And Friday’s event is a strategic one-two punch for the Arizona Republican, since it simultaneously nods to the conservative wing of the party and to female voters. Ernst is quickly becoming a go-to star among Republicans, delivering the party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech in January just a few weeks after she was sworn in.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Uncategorized • POSTED - 02.16.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Cleveland gets Ready for Hillary, Gov. Chris Christie parties in New Hampshire, and Jeb Bush fundraises like crazy; plus, the return of Eric Cantor to Party Time!

Since it’s the Monday of a holiday weekend, party people, we hope this weekly roundup finds you snuggled up against the cold snap that’s kicking the backsides of Northeasterners – or, perhaps, prepping for a party!

With Congress out of D.C. on one of those enviable “district work periods,” the usual Capitol Hill hotspots won’t see their usual Party Time traffic. But PT’s social calendar shows that politicians aren’t totally taking the week off, shaking their moneymakers in their home states instead of the District.

The partying schedule this week takes us from Alabama to Arizona, from Wisconsin to Wyoming, but we just know there are more get-togethers in the works out there. What have you heard about, and what have we missed? Share the goods with your friends at Party Time! You can email us whatever you’ve got, or use our handy upload feature right here. Either way, it’s simple and 100 percent confidential. We call that a win-win!

And now, here are some of your week’s highlights.

– Hillary Clinton fans hoping the former Secretary of State makes a run for the White House in 2016 are building on last week’s Valentine’s Day-themed fundraiser with a party on Monday evening in Cleveland. Will Ready for Hillary continue to feel the love, even though some Democrats are getting more frustrated that Clinton hasn’t officially announced her campaign yet?

– #2016Watch: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie heads to New Hampshire Monday evening to headline the Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner benefiting the Concord-Merrimack County Republicans. Last week, we told you how the New Jersey Republican met up with donors in Illinois and Iowa, and yes, party people, that means visits to two early voting states in two weeks. The jam-packed schedule is nothing new for Christie, though; our friends up at used Party Time data and found that Christie spent nearly one out of three days fundraising in 2014.

– Eric Cantor can’t quit his partying ways! After losing the Republican primary heard around the world, the former Virginia congressman landed a top spot at an investment bank and PT hadn’t heard much from him since. But come Monday, Cantor will team up with presidential hopeful Jeb Bush for a reception for the Republican State Leadership Committee. The group, which works to elect Republicans in state-level races, will have its pricey party in Cantor’s old stomping grounds of Richmond.

– After Monday’s party in Virginia, Jeb Bush has a very busy few days. The former Florida governor and all-but-official presidential candidate is slated to hit up donors on Tuesday (at a lobbying shop in downtown D.C. and then at an evening reception in Virginia) and Wednesday (first in Chicago, and then at a $25,000-per-person party in the Windy City suburb of Lake Forest). Bush has been all over the place this year, but we know there are more parties happening out there. If you hear of one, keep your friends at Party Time in the loop!

– We might be coming off of a long weekend, but that won’t stop these two politicians from taking a vacay – with donors, of course. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is having his yearly Family Spring Ski Fling Weekend starting on Friday, and tickets start at $1,500 for individuals and $3,000 for PACs (because nothing says “quality family weekend time” like hanging out with a political action committee). And Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., will hit the links in San Diego with people willing to drop at least $1,500 for a weekend of seaside golfing and sunshine.

Those are your highlights of the week, party people! Let us know what you’ve heard about out there.

Photo courtesy Pixabay

Uncategorized • POSTED - 02.09.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: President Obama headlines San Francisco fundraiser, Gov. Chris Christie goes to Iowa, Jeb Bush parties for Right to Rise PAC and Heather Podesta throws funder for Democrats; plus, Valentine’s Day fun

Ready those checkbooks, party people, because fundraiser season just revved into high gear.

After a quiet January (at least by Party Time standards), politicians are prepping for a busy week – and month – of receptions, luncheons and breakfast gatherings. It’s basically the opposite of what Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., suggested last month. In a blog post, Deutch floated the idea of “Fundraising Free February,” where members of Congress would pledge to “put the permanent campaign on hold when we are in Washington and Congress is in session.” The response so far? Crickets, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Although we salute the idea, we aren’t all that surprised at the lack of signers-on. If there’s one thing PT knows, it’s that politicians have a borderline obsession with campaign cash.

Along those lines, party people, please keep us posted on what you hear about out there! Upload invites right here, or you can email us whatever you’ve got. And remember: The whole process is 100 percent confidential, so you can feel comfortable sharing.

Now let’s dive into your week in political parties!

Presidential par-tay
He’s baaaaack!

The partier-in-chief returns to the money trail this week for the first time in 2015. Party Time records show this will be President Barack Obama’s first fundraiser in 73 days – not a record by any means, but certainly a long hibernation for this party animal.

Friday night’s dinner for the Democratic National Committee in California comes on the same day as the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University, which Obama is attending. Post summit, Obama heads to the swanky digs of Sandy and Jeanne Robertson, which happened to be the site of a $25,000-per-person party in November 2013 for the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, Ready for Hillary. Tickets to Friday’s funder start at $10,000 and climb to $32,400.

The theme of the day? Technology! Sandy Robertson made his dough at a variety of technology investment companies, and he is a founding partner at Francisco Partners, a tech-focused private equity firm.

Despite the deep blue setting of the party, Obama isn’t feeling the love for the pre-Valentine’s Day get-together. According to, event organizers said “many” seats were still available at the 60-person dinner. (Don’t feel too bad for the Dems, though. Even if they only sell the cheap seats, this one meal could bring in $600,000 for the DNC.)

Christie raises cash
After a dismal oversees trip to London, Gov. Chris Christie is back stateside. The New Jersey Republican and possible presidential candidate is using his first few days at home to ward off a criminal investigation into his administration’s handling of grand jury indictments against a Christie supporter. Oh, and he’s also traveling to the Midwest for a couple fundraisers.

The first stop on the agenda is Iowa, where he will keynote an event benefiting the Dallas County Republican Party of Iowa. Presidential prognosticators, take note: Monday’s $25-per-person fundraiser marks the second time in 17 days that Christie has been in Iowa; he spoke at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January.

On Thursday, Christie travels to Illinois for the Northwest Suburban Republican 2015 Lincoln Day Dinner. Christie is the headliner, but newly elected Gov. Bruce Rauner, R-Ill., is listed as the event’s special guest. Tickets start at $100 for dinner, and $250 will get you into a private reception.

In the run up to last November’s election, Rauner and Christie were each other’s wingmen. In October, they hobnobbed at a Republican Governors Association event and later at an Illinois Republican Party luncheon. But, in a 2016 presidential plot twist, Rauner also had a high-dollar reception in September with one Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and all-but-certain presidential candidate. Hmmm.

Right to raise money
And speaking of Jeb Bush, the one-man traveling machine is at it again this week with another flurry of fundraisers. His Right to Rise super PAC is throwing a luncheon on Tuesday in Tallahassee, where tickets go for $1,000, but $5,000 will get you onto the host committee.

The next day, the Republican heads up to Manhattan for an evening reception at the home of Henry Kravis, the head of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts. Guests at the fundraiser may get a peek at some eye-popping art, since Kravis and his wife, Marie-Josee, are big-time collectors. The Met named a European sculpture and decorative arts wing after Henry, while Marie-Josee is the board president at the Museum of Modern Art.

While Bush parties with some high-rolling New Yorkers, his son, Jeb Bush Jr., will be the main attraction at a more low-key gathering in D.C. Billed as a “young professionals event,” the fundraiser for Right to Rise PAC costs $50 and is happening at a Mexican restaurant in Dupont Circle.

But don’t let the venue fool you – movers and shakers like Olga Arguello of Ellos Global Consulting, Ryan Bradel of Greenberg Traurig (who hosted fundraisers for former Rep. Todd Akin in 2012) and MacKay Jimeson of Pfizer (who previously worked for Gov. Bush in Florida and on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008) will be there. Carlos Gutierrez Jr., whose dad was the secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush and who made it onto the Hill’s Most Beautiful list in 2013, and David Powers, the Republican National Committee’s senior counsel, are also among the listed attendees.

As far as Party Time can tell, this is the first time Jeb Jr. has been dispatched for dad, but we certainly don’t think it’ll be the last. Have you heard of any Bushie parties in the works? Let us know!

Party at Podesta + Partners
There was a time at the beginning of last year when the name Podesta conjured stories of the messy – and public – divorce of D.C. power couple Heather and Tony Podesta. But by September, the two were able to overlook their differences (at least for one evening) to co-host a D.C. fundraiser for Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, a Democrat out of Georgia. That’s what we call some professional-level partying!

Come Tuesday evening, Heather Podesta throws a pricey party for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The reception and dinner goes down at her lobbying shop’s downtown headquarters, and five other lobbyists with the firm will be on hand to fete the Dems in attendance.

Individuals are asked to give $5,000, and PACs are expected to throw down $15,000. It costs a cool $32,400 per person to be on the host committee, and the invite reminds that “a contribution of $32,400 enrolls an individual as a DSCC ‘Majority Trust’ member and, along with other benefits, allows for attendance at the DSCC’s signature retreats.” Raise your hand if you have follow-up questions about those “other benefits”!

Show your love!!
Party Time loves a good themed party as much as the next person, so we salute the couple of politicos who are cashing in on Valentine’s Day.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is throwing a Valentine’s Day luncheon on Thursday at the lovey-dovey downtown offices of Honeywell International. Check out that invite: Multiple shades of pink! Hearts! And the theme continues to the contribution levels, where $250 makes you “cupid” and $2,500 gets you to “Valentine” status.

Come Thursday evening, it’s time for Ready for Hillary’s D.C. shindig. The PAC is having a Women Ready for Hillary event and prospective attendees are encouraged to “show your love for Hillary and encourage her to run in 2016!” The 21-person host committee includes plenty of familiar-to-PT faces, like Janice Enright (a lobbyist with deep and longstanding Democratic ties), Edie Fraser (the president of Business Women’s Network) and Carol Pensky (the co-founder of the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum).

And that wraps up your week in political parties, friends! What have we missed and what have you heard about it? Send us the goods right here.

Photo courtesy

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!


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.