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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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Spending inaugural • POSTED - 01.15.09 BY Nancy Watzman

Getting the party started

If you haven’t noticed already, the capitol city is turning into one big party. The celebration of the inaguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president is well underway. For example, the Hip Hop Caucus is planning a party tonight billed as an “exclusive pre-inauguration celebrity affair,” invitation only, with sponsorship levels reaching as high as $100,000, according to this schedule of events compiled by the political consulting group ConklinScott.

Events like the Hip Hop party are part of the long list of private events that are not required to comply with President-elect Obama’s restrictions and disclosure requirements for inaugural events. Obama certainly has gone further than any previous president-to-be, limiting contributions from individuals to $50,000, refusing donations form corporations, political action committees, and lobbyists, among other restrictions. (Read the fine print here.)  He’s also made information avaialble about his inaugural donors who give more than $200 here.  But these rules apply only to events funded by the inaugural fund, such as the ten official inaugural balls on Jan. 20.

Private events include corporate-sponsored state society balls, such as the Illinois State Society’s ball. That party is drawing contributions from lobbying firms PMA Group and Holland & Knight, as well as major corporations such as United Airlines, Motorola, Google, and Microsoft, reports the Washington Times.

As at the political conventions last summer, often these parties are carefully planned so members of Congress and top staff can attend while complying with ethics laws. Says the Washington Times:

These parties are being structured so that lawmakers can attend without breaking new rules that restrict their socializing with lobbyists. Many of the invitations include a menu of “heavy hors d’oeuvres,” for example, because lawmakers cannot accept full meals from lobbyists under the rules.

The Poker Players Alliance is hosting a private, invitation-only event to honor “our new poker player in chief” starting at 11 p.m. on Inauguration Day at a well-known local cigar bar. The fine print of the invitation, sent to some lawmakers, notes that the event “conforms with the congressional ethics committee rules.”

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PARTYFINDER™ Hints

Beneficiary: congressional candidate, lawmaker, or entity which collects funds raised at party

Host: person who is hosting party-often, but not always, a registered federal lobbyist

Venue Name: where the party is

Entertainment Type: type of gathering, such as "breakfast," "ski trip," "bowling"

Other Lawmakers Mentioned: lawmakers mentioned on invitation who are used as a draw for the event

Sunlight's Party Time is a project to track parties for members of Congress or congressional candidates that happen all year round in Washington, D.C. and beyond. (read more)

We also post information we receive about parties where members of Congress are expected to participate—such as convention or inaugural parties.

Since we don't hear about all the parties, you can also tell us if you know where the party is and we don't.