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


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Congressional leadership leadership PACs • POSTED - 06.17.11 BY Patrick Simmons

Fundraising frenzy: Jeopardy, golf and more

With the end of the second quarter on the horizon, lawmakers are scheduling more than the usual number of fundraisers to get in as much campaign cash as they can before June 30. Party Time has received 162 invitations to congressional fundraisers scheduled for the last ten days of June.

These events run the gamut from the usual dinners and receptions to Rep. Rush Holt’s, D-N.J., 7th Annual Jeopardy Event. Attendees of the event will have to pay at least $250 for the honor of being bested by 5-time Jeopardy Champion Holt, a man who has even beaten IBM supercomputer Watson.

For those more interested in outdoor competition, two senators and their leadership PACs will be hosting golf events. On June 20, Sen. Richard Bur, R-N.C., and his Next Century PAC will be hitting the links at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainsville VA. The price to tee off will range from $1,000 to $2,5000. From June 24 to June 26, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., will be on the greens at the Harbourtown Golf Course in St. Michaels, Maryland. Contributions will run $5,000 and be made to Cardin’s leadership PAC, LEGPAC.

Less than a month after her victory in the special election for New York’s 26th district, Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser for her 2012 re-election campaign. The fundraiser will be held on June 21 at the home of fellow New York Democratic representative Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. Also present at the event to welcome Hochul into the fold will be freshmen Democratic representatives Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and Terri Sewell, D-Ala. Listed contributions start at $250 and top out at $5,000.

Democrats will also be fundraising for another candidate in a special congressional election. A reception benefitting Janice Hahn, the Democrat in the special election to replace Jane Harman of California, is scheduled at the Democratic National Headquarters on June 22. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is headlining the event along with the Democratic house leadership including Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. The invitation lists nineteen Democratic members of the California congressional delegation who will be there in support of the candidate as well.

special interests • POSTED - 03.22.11 BY Keenan Steiner

Democrats raise funds from labor during clashes in states

As governors and legislators in many states attempt to curb public sector union benefits, congressional Democrats have turned to organized labor for campaign donations at Washington, D.C., fundraisers.

Since February, when the state labor disputes gained national attention, Democrats have scheduled at least 15 events that were either targeted at labor donor or hosted by unions, Party Time records show. There are at least four such fundraisers on tap next week, which would mean a total of 19 over a two-month span.

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Democrats turned to labor at least as many times during the same period last year, Party Time files show, but the fundraisers are more relevant this year when unions could use a lawmaker’s support in legislative battles back in their home state.

Two battleground states for unions are Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker has signed a law curbing government unions’ collective bargaining rights, and Ohio, where a similar bill passed the state Senate on Mar. 2.

Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, planned a fundraiser on Mar. 10 aimed at labor and the Federal-Postal Coalition, which includes many unions as well as management organizations. A day later, Sutton’s presence was a draw for a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Labor Council fundraiser, which sought to bring in between $5,000 and $15,000 from labor PACs. Sutton co-chairs the council. Her office has not replied to a phone call asking if she attended the fundraisers.

Last election, the Ohio lawmaker benefited from over $325,000 in PAC donations from labor, $150,000 more than the average given to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. She won a closely contested race.

Earlier this month, Sutton took to the House floor to criticize the Ohio legislation, saying, “the unfair, backward-thinking attack on Ohio’s firefighters, police, teachers, nurses, and other dedicated public employees must be stopped.” She joined protesters of the law at the Ohio Statehouse the week before.

Back on Feb. 10, a day before Walker unveiled his controversial plan, Badger State Rep. Gwen Moore. D-Wis., put on a “labor meet and greet” event, the invitation to which made clear that the event was “not a fundraiser” and “open to all Labor interests.” The affair, which Moore attended, was designed for the congresswoman to talk about her priorities for labor and was attended by donors who have traditionally supported her, according to a campaign spokesman.

Last week, Moore made a speech on the House floor to recognize “Wisconsin’s Fabulous 14,” the state’s Senate Democrats who fled to Illinois to prevent a vote on Gov. Walker’s controversial bill. In the speech, Moore said she was in Madison on Mar. 12, along with about 100,000 people, to welcome the senators back.

In New York, as Gov. Mario Cuomo seeks concessions from state workers, at least two of the state’s representatives have booked labor moneymakers this month. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., the chair of the DCCC, planned two events within a week of each other at the offices of the Teamsters union, according to Party Time invitations.

His delegation colleague, Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., has scheduled two labor breakfasts this month including one next week, which asks union PACs to donate between $1,000 and $5,000. A slew of groups, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, have signed up to invite their labor colleagues to the event.

The lone Republican with a labor event on schedule over the last two months is Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., who received more contributions from labor than any other sector last election, according to CRP. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants public sector unions to pay more for their pensions and health care.

Out in California, as Gov. Jerry Brown has partnered with government unions in his state budget proposal, Laura Richardson, D-Calif., scheduled back-to-back events last week – first in Washington and then in her district. Her colleague Sam Farr, D-Calif., has booked a labor fundraiser next week.

2010 Elections • POSTED - 08.13.10 BY Keenan Steiner

Maloney fetes with Mets

With the New York primary a month away, Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., is asking donors to belt a $4,800 ‘Gland Slam’ for her on Sunday and join her to watch the Mets take on the Phillies, according to this invitation.

Not taking any chances against her challenger, Reshma Saujani, Maloney has held at least eight fundraisers since May, including the Mets game, according to invitations obtained by Party Time. Recently, the longtime Manhattan Congresswoman’s Capitol Hill home was party central three nights in a row — two going towards her own campaign, and another where she played host to Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. Kaptur, who was thought to be a safe incumbent, could be in trouble if she doesn’t raise more money, as Paul Blumenthal wrote.

One of these house parties was a birthday party for Pat Schroeder, the first woman elected to Congress from Colorado, and Eleanor Smeal, the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and Rep. Diana Degette, D-Colo.

Saujani, a 34-year-old ex-hedge fund lawyer, has been on the offensive, criticizing Maloney’s “capacity” to govern and her acceptance of corporate PAC money, which Saujani has vowed to turn down. She called out Maloney for fundraising at a James Taylor and Carole King concert during the days of the financial regulation conference committee. Maloney, along with several others on the committee, continued to fundraise around the same time as the hearings, as Party Time has previously reported. Though avoiding PAC money, Saujani has taken in about $225,000 from the securities and investment industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Maloney has called her campaign negative and dishonest.

With about $1.2 million raised and about $430,000 on hand, Saujani is behind, according to CRP. Maloney has over $2 million in the bank.

venues of interest • POSTED - 06.23.10 BY Lisa Chiu

Free love and money at the Carole King, James Taylor Reunion Tour

At least six members of Congress, all Democrats, plan to relive the 70s and also raise some serious 2010 campaign cash at the Carole King and James Taylor Troubadour Reunion Tour at the Verizon Center in Washington tonight.

The Troubadour Reunion Tour is billed as the 40th anniversary of King and Taylor’s first performance together in 1970 at the folk-music-mecca, the Troubadour nightclub, in West Hollywood, Calif.

Lawmakers who are planning fundraisers at this event include:

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., who is asking guests to pay $1,000 for individuals and $1,500 for political action committees.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who is also hosting a reception at the Verizon Center an hour before the concert. Tickets are $2,500 per political action committee and $2,400 per individual.

Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., is advertising the “best seats in the house” for the concert. His tickets are $2,500 per ticket for seats to the right of the stage “designed to recreate the intimacy of the vintage Troubadour club” and offers the chance to attend a private pre-concert sound check. Guests can also pay $1,000 for premium seats, which are close row seats right by the stage.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., lists her position as the Chair of the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Serves Committee, and a member of the Homeland Security and Joint Economic Committees. Sanchez’ tickets to the event are $1,000 for individuals and $2,500 for political action committees.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., writes on his invite to the concert: “I hope you will be able to join me for a special concert event featuring Carol [sic] King and James Taylor tomorrow” and is asking for contributions of $2,500.

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., appears to have used the same outreach service as Rep. Engel because her invite looked the same as his, complete with the identical typo of Carole King’s name. DeGette is also asking for contributions of $2,500. Her invite lists an earlier date of the concert of June 8th, but it was changed to tonight.

Tonight’s concert, which will include original support band from The Troubadour, is estimated to be the best selling ticket event in the world, based on sales from the secondary ticket exchange, the TicketNetwork Exchange.

Featured songs might include Smiling Face, Up on the Roof, and maybe one the lawmakers will like:  Where You Lead.

financial reform • POSTED - 06.18.10 BY Keenan Steiner

As meetings continue, Wall Street reform conferees fundraise

As the 43 members of Congress on the financial reform conference committee meet this month to hash out the final bill, more than half have planned fundraisers for themselves or are scheduled to be special guests at fundraisers for their colleagues.

In Party Time’s database of invitations for the month of June, 28 of these events were for their own campaigns or political action committees, while 14 were for other lawmakers.

At least two members — Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the head of the House-Senate joint committee, and Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee — have postponed fundraisers since the committee convened on June 10, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bachus’ press secretary Tim Johnson also told Party Time that Bachus did not attend one of the fundraisers that conflicted with the conference committee meeting. “Obviously there was a conflict with conference and that’s where the congressman’s full attention is,” Johnson said. Our count does not include postponed or canceled events.

For our full list, check out the spreadsheet below. Note: Our database only includes some of the fundraisers in the D.C. area, which we learn about from anonymous sources, so there may be more that we don’t know about.

Of the June Party Time invitations that, as far as we know, were planned to happen, here are some that caught our eye:

On the GOP side, Reps. Sam Graves, R-Miss., and Lamar Smith, R.-Tex., had invites to quite a few June soirees. Graves, the ranking Republican on the House Small Business Committee, planned six events this month, including a lunch at noon on June 16th just an hour after the committee started meeting at 11 a.m.

On June 14th, Smith’s political action committee, Longhorn PAC, planned its annual tennis event at the Washington Golf & Country Club. Smith, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, is also set to host three events for either himself or his PAC this month, and was a guest at a fundraiser for Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.

On June 15th, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., planned to use an Eagles concert at Nationals Stadium to raise money. Issa, the ranking member on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform also plans to hold his 9th Annual “Issa Cream Special” on June 23rd at the Associated General Contractors of America Townhouse with special guests, the “California GOP Delegation”. A ticket could cost as much as $2,500, or as little as $100 for those 35 and under.

Issa was also scheduled to host a fundraising breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday hosted by lobbyist Will Moschella, who represents the Electronic Payment Coalition among others. Moschella’s firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Shrek, LLP, is one of the top lobbying firms working on financial reform legislation, representing 19 clients to lobby on the financial reform overhaul in 2009 and the first quarter of 2010, according to a report by the Center for Public Integrity.

On June 9, just before the joint committee opened, Spencer Bachus, was scheduled to wine and dine at a Financial Services Industry Dinner at Acadiana to raise money for Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif.

On the Democratic side, House-Senate Conference Committee head Barney Frank was listed as a featured guest on at least 15 fundraisers for his colleagues and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year. On June 7, Frank was listed as a host to a fundraising lunch for his colleague Ron Klein, D-Fla. He also plans to headline a fundraiser for Alan Grayson, D-Fla., at the National Democratic Club on July 1.

Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., planned two fundraisers this month, including a June 10 breakfast at the home of lobbyist Robert Raben, founder of the Raben Group, which lobbies on financial issues. The invite highlights Maloney’s committee positions as chair of the Joint Economic Committee and a member on both the Financial Services and Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee.

Next week, Maloney plans to schmooze with donors while watching the “Carole King and James Taylor’s Troubadour Reunion Tour” at the Verizon Center.

Elijah Cummings, D-Md., also has plans for a June 24 fundraiser. The invitation highlights his positions as senior whip, senior member of the Joint Economic Committee, and senior member of the Committee on Government Oversight and Reform.

On Wednesday, in the middle of the conference committee meeting, former NFL Quarterback and chair of the Subcommittee on Rural and Urban Entrepreneurship Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., had planned for a $1,000-a-plate “Southern Summer Luncheon” at the National Democratic Club Townhouse to raise money for his campaign.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., chairman of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, was also scheduled to be a guest at a fundraising breakfast on June 11 for Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-Pa.

Of the 12 Senators on the committee, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, are billed as hosts while Sen. Tim Johnson was scheduled to hold a fundraiser at the National Automobile Dealers Association on June 15.

Finally, using Party Time’s Events by Committee search option, here are links to the fundraisers held by the House and Senate committees whose members were pulled for the conference committee:

House Financial Services Committee

House Committee on Agriculture

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Joint Economic Committee

House Committee on Small Business

Senate Banking Committee

Senate Commitee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

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holiday parties • POSTED - 12.10.09 BY Nancy Watzman

Recession not slowing down holiday time fundraisers

Recent reports  (Politico here, the Hill here) say that lobbyist sponsored holiday parties for members of Congress will be modest this year, thanks to the recession, and, some say, tougher ethics rules. However, our Party Time database nevertheless documents more than 135 congressional fundraising parties this month–and counting–several with holiday themes.

While an ethics law passed in 2007 placed new restrictions lobbyist-sponsored bashes for lawmakers, these do not apply to fundraising events. Lobbyists may host or attend fundraisers with no restrictions other than the campaign contribution limits and reporting requirements under federal campaign finance law.

Upcoming holiday-themed fundraising parties include:

  • a holiday breakfast next Tuesday for Rep. Mazie Hirono at the Democratic Club townhouse;
  • a holiday reception yesterday evening for Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid at the Hotel George;
  • A holiday weekend in New York December 11-13 benefiting Rep. Carolyn Maloney, featuring several meals, two tickets to the Broadway production of South Pacific, and entre to “two issues breakfasts during 2010 in Washington, DC.” (Perhaps they meant 2011?) Cost is $5,000 per PAC, given or raised, or $4,800 per individual, the legal maximum.

Party Time’s database shows only 38 congressional fundraisers held in December 2008. It is difficult to say whether this year’s increase is because there is more partying, or because we’re a year away from an election instead of one month after one, or–another possiblity–because our anonymous lobbyist sources have given us more invitations this holiday season than last.

Partytime • POSTED - 11.11.08 BY Nancy Watzman

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

If an email could shout, the one I received this morning from a vacation lodging company would do it. “The snow is falling! Aspen/Snowmass has already received 2 feet of snow and more is on the way.” Yes, this is the time of year when we Denverites start to fantasize about how much snow is falling where and how we can manage to dodge traffic on I-70 to get to the mountains and start skiing on it.

And according to our Party Time database, at least five lawmakers have dreams of white fluffy stuff too–although to attend you or your PAC would have to chip in anywhere from $2,300 to $5,000 attend.

Here in Colorado, my own representative Colorado Democrat Rep. Diana Degette is planning a Vail ski weekend from Jan. 2 through Jan. 5.  The following week, Jan. 8 -11, Rep. Carolyn B Maloney (D-NY) is also planning a Vail get away. The same weekend, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) is planning to ski in nearby Beaver Creek in an event to benefit his leadership PAC, First State PAC.

Not that everybody skis in Colorado. Over in Idaho there are some big hills too. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) is planning his annual ski fest in Sun Valley for February 6 – 8. And then there’s of course Alaska. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) plans to celebrate the 37th Iditarod with some skiing at the Aleyeska ski resort.

Perhaps there are other skiing fundraising events planned that we don’t know about. If you have heard about them, please send the information our way.


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.