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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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2014 elections 2016 presidential Uncategorized • POSTED - 04.28.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Politicians – and their fundraising parties – head back to D.C.

Good morning, party people, and happy Monday! As Congress slinks back into town this week, politicians return to their favorite pastime of D.C. partying, mixing and mingling with the people willing and able to throw down major cash for a little bit of face time with an elected official.

But one congressman isn’t quite ready to be done with his two-week break. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., will be on the golf course Monday morning, hitting the links and squeezing in one more opportunity to collect some campaign cash before getting back to Capitol Hill. A day of golf with Rooney at Virginia’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Club will put you back $1,000, or $2,000 for PACs.

As we look at this week’s social calendar, we can’t help but think there are other fundraisers happening out there. What have you heard about, faithful partiers? Let us know! Email us whatever you’ve got (newspaper clippings, photos, the menu and guest list from an event, etc.), or upload an official invite right here.

And now, for the week’s highlights!

Friends in high places
Amanda Renteria has Washington contacts and she’s not afraid to use them. The California Democrat is running to unseat Rep. David Valadao in the Golden State’s 21st District, a predominantly Latino section of the Central Valley. In the 2012 election, voters came out for Valadao, a Republican, and for President Obama, who scored 55 percent of that District’s vote. This cycle, the Rothenberg Political Report calls the seat “Toss-Up/Tilt Republican,” but national Dems see a red-to-blue opportunity in Renteria.

After stints as a teacher, investment analyst and city employee, the San Joaquin Valley born and bred Renteria made her way to D.C., working first with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Renteria then moved over to the office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., where she became the first Latina chief of staff in the Senate.

Stabenow returns the favor on Monday when she throws an evening reception for Renteria at D.C.’s Lounge 201. And Stabenow isn’t the only District denizen lending her name to the invite. Renteria’s Capitol Hill connections mean Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., along with Reps. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.,  Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.,  Jackie Speier, D-Calif., Jim Himes, D-Conn., and Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., are all slated to attend the party. Tickets start at $250 and go up to $1,000.

McKinley: more money, please!
In his run for reelection in West Virginia’s 1st District, Republican Rep. David McKinley has a whopping $1.4 million on hand, according to Sunlight’s Real-Time tracker. He’s far outpacing his Democratic opponent, State Auditor Glen Gainer, who has $166,964 in the bank.

But no matter: McKinley wants more! The seventh-generation Wheeling, W. Va., native – who scored big for his coal-rich state when he landed a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee – will party it up on Tuesday. His breakfast fundraiser is hosted by the American Chemistry Council’s PAC, whose organization has lobbied heavily (to the tune of $79 million, according to Influence Explorer) on energy and the environment, and has given at least $4,000 to McKinley since 2011. The group is currently lobbying for a revision of of a 40-year-old law regulating toxic substances, a bill that’s before the Energy and Commerce Committee. The Chemistry Council’s party should bring in the big bucks, too, with a spot at the breakfast starting at $500 and topping out at $2,000 for PAC attendees.

Spicy party
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., isn’t up for reelection until 2016, but that isn’t stopping him from throwing a party. On Wednesday, Nutmeg PAC will have its third fundraiser in as many months, with a pricey lunch at Fiola.

Nutmeg is Blumenthal’s leadership PAC, meaning that he can dole out money he collects for that group to fellow politicians and their campaigns. The Center for Responsive Politics found that Nutmeg has given $27,500 so far this cycle to his Democratic friends in the Senate (including $2,500 contributions to vulnerable Sens. Kay Hagan and Mary Landrieu, both in already-close races in North Carolina and Louisiana, respectively). Blumenthal chairs a couple of key subcommittees and keeping those plum posts — or getting even plummier ones — depends on his party holding onto its control of the Senate.

On a side note, Party Time hopes that Blumenthal takes a minute or two to relax and enjoy Wednesday’s lunch. Last week, the senator had a close call with a train that zoomed through the station as he held a press conference on – we aren’t making this up – commuter rail safety.

Democrats party in South Carolina
Palmetto State voters lean Republican, with Rep. James Clyburn the only Democratic member of the state’s delegation on Capitol Hill. And, in 2008 and 2012, the state overwhelmingly opted for the GOP candidate over now President Obama. But no matter: South Carolina Dems are rallying the troops on Saturday for their annual convention in Columbia. On the docket? Prepping and strategizing for the 2014 elections, officially. But this is an event that could attract 2016ers too: South Carolina every four years hosts a key early presidential primary.

Hmm. So what are we to make of Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., kicking things off on Friday night when he keynotes the Jefferson Jackson Dinner. Since the theme of the evening is When Governors Govern, expect Kaine to regale attendees with anecdotes from his four-year term as Virginia’s head honcho.

And that’s your week in parties, friends! What have we missed? Let us know by emailing us any tips or suggestions, or by uploading invites here.

Photo credit Wikimedia

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

Partytime • POSTED - 01.23.12 BY La Toya Gratten

It’s North versus South (California) in SOPA debate

Since the bills’ introduction in late October, the Stop Online Piracy Act  (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) and its Senate counterpart the Protect IP Act (PIPA) (S. 968) have been met with controversy. The legislation has unleashed passions that cross party lines, as vividly illustrated in the California delegation, where the fight over SOPA has turned into battle between the North and South:  Hollywood media giants versus the heavy hitters from the tech world in Silicon Valley.

Southern California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman, Joe Baca, Karen Bass, Adam Schiff, Judy Chu and Brad Sherman and Republican Reps. Mary Bono-Mack and Elton Gallegly are proponents of the SOPA bill according to ProRepublica.

Berman has been an active supporter of SOPA since its creation. He joined Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, and Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, John Conyers, D-Mich., Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., on Capitol Hill in April for a press conference on fighting online infringement.

“The theft of American Intellectual Property not only robs those in the creative chain of adequate compensation, but it also stunts potential for economic growth, cheats our communities out of good paying jobs, and threatens future American innovation,” he said at the media event. “Today I remain as committed to this fight as ever, and I look forward to working with my colleagues – both Republicans and Democrats to protect American businesses, workers, and innovators.”

Party Time records on Berman show that he has had four fundraisers with lobbyists representing clients such as Verizon Communications, Comcast Corporation and the National Association of Broadcasters. One fundraiser in October included the Yahoo! Inc., PAC.

While Berman’s says his aim is to protect American intellectual property, his efforts also would protect a long-time and lucrative constituency in a year when the veteran lawmaker is in the fight of his political life, forced by redistricting into a battle with another powerful Democratic colleague. Berman, who has long represented parts of Hollywood as well as Studio City and Universal City, where many television shows are made, counts television, film and music among his top financial supporters, according to OpenSecrets. Those industries are also leading the fight for enactment of legislation to stop online piracy.

Another California Democrat who backs SOPA, Rep. Adam Schiff, has received contributions from of the legislation such as Comcast, Microsoft (which just announced it opposes the current draft of the bill), the Motion Picture Association of America PAC, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney, and Time Warner.

Schiff’s 29th Congressional District, which includes Burbank, is home to Warner Brothers Studios, Disney Studios, NBC Studios, and DreamWorks Animation Studios. Party Time has the invite to Schiff’s  First Annual Weekend with the Stars fundraiser, scheduled for March in Los Angeles.

Among other SOPA supporters who have been feted by backers of the legislation:

Rep. Joe Baca: Jocelyn Hong, a Twenty-First Century Group lobbyist who represents clients such as Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications — both SOPA supporters — has hosted two fundraisers for the California Democrat.

Rep. Mary Bono-Mack: The AT&T Federal PAC hosted a fundraiser for the Palm Springs Republican in April, with tickets ranging from $1,500 for PACs and $1,000 for individuals. The AT&T Federal PAC has given $5,000 to Bono-Mack. Other proponents of SOPA, including, but not limited the Walt Disney Productions Employees PAC, the Motion Pictures Association of America PAC, Comcast Corporation PAC had made contributions to Bono-Mack.

Of the 189 opponents of the SOPA/PIPA legislation, 9 are Democrats from northern California, home of many of the tech firms that are leading the opposition to the bills. The list includes: Reps. Anna Eschoo, Mike Honda, Zoe Lofgren, Doris Matsui, Jerry McNerney, George Miller, Jackie Speirer, Pete Stark, and the leader of the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi.

Lobbyist Dom Ruscio was one of the hosts for a breakfast reception in June for Honda. Ruscio is a lobbyist at Cavarocchi Ruscio Dennis Associates LLC and one of the clients he represents is the IBM Corporation. IBM is one of many tech companies that oppose SOPA.

Lofgren’s 16th congressional district covers most of the Santa Clara County, which includes the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose. Lofgren’s top contributors are tech industry titans, including Google Inc., which has been a vocal opponent of SOPA.

In March, Rep. Lofgren held a Technology Industry Breakfast, with tickets starting at $2,500 for PACs and $500 for individuals.

holiday parties • POSTED - 02.11.11 BY Keenan Steiner

Congress Romances Donors on Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, at least two members of Congress are using love to attract some special interest honey. Two other members also planned Cupid-themed events in advance of the holiday this week.

Rep. Connie Mack’s, R-Fla., is putting on a couples-themed, early-evening, wine bar event with his wife, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif. (Sorry, Party Time only has a blurb, not the full-page invitation).

The congressional pair wanted to put on an event for other couples, said GOP Fundraiser Rob Jennings, who is accepting checks for the affair. “They thought it would be fun to have a one hour reception before votes and try to get people together to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” he added.

The event is also an occasion for PAC representatives and lobbyists to let the congressman know their love equals $1,000. But, Jennings said, the event is just like many others in the nation’s capital.

“In Washington everyone finds an excuse one way or another to have a fundraiser,” he said.

If not romance, Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, is luring lobbyists with the promise of the holiday’s other mainstay: chocolate. The Democrat is asking PACs for between $1,000 and $5,000 to attend his lunch at a classic D.C. establishment. That is, according to the invitation, as Michaud’s office has not confirmed whether the event will happen.

This week, at least two other members tried to romance their donors. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., invited “you and your sweetheart” to an evening reception with candies, asking for donations between $1,000 and $5,000. Speier’s chief of staff would not say whether the fundraiser actually took place, saying that she does not comment to the press on the congresswoman’s fundraising activities despite the fact that the aide is listed as the person to contact to RSVP for the event.

Earlier this week, Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., and his wife invited donors — and their significant others — to their annual Valentine’s Day dinner at an Italian restaurant. Manzullo’s fundraising consultant has not responded to an email confirming if this event was held.

But not all of Monday’s gatherings are for lovers.

Joe Pitts, R-Pa., is putting on an intimate, $2,000-per-head, lunch but there is “nothing romantic” about it, said fundraising consultant Meredith Mino.

“It just happened to fall on that day,” she said.

Partytime • POSTED - 09.29.10 BY Keenan Steiner

Speier banks on sugar high rollers

From Wisconsin beer to Kentucky bourbon, many a time we have seen members of Congress try to attract donors by hosting DC parties with food and drink associated with their district.

But this is the first time we’ve seen a lawmaker use candy as a lure. And according to the invitation, which trumpets “Candy & Candy & Candy & Candy & More Candy!!!” there will be plenty to go around.

The event is billed as a candy battle between the district of Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., which includes San Mateo County and southwest San Francisco, and that of her colleague, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who represents the northern coast of the state, including Napa Valley.

Thompson would seem to be more comfortable tasting wine. A vineyard owner, Thompson has used his specialty to attract dollars in the past, planning wine tastings and cooking classes.

But this event includes a lower brow item: jelly beans. There will be two battles: “Chocolate VS Jelly Beans” and “Lollipops VS Licorice.”

It’s likely that Speier would represent chocolate since Ghirardelli is associated with San Francisco. Thompson is probably rooting for Jelly Belly, whose Fairfield headquarters is just outside his district.

However, it’s worth noting that neither company’s headquarters is actually in either member’s district. And jelly beans might be considered an odd choice for Democrats, considering they were a favorite of Ronald Reagan, who used to keep a jar on hand for important meetings. Even today, the Jelly Belly Candy Co. doesn’t give to Speier or Thompson but to Republicans Meg Whitman (to the tune of over $25,000 last year), Carly Fiorina and Dan Lungren, R-Calif., according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Speier is seeking to raise between $1,000 and $5,000 per donor at tomorrow night’s soiree, taking place at the party room of the Capitol Hill Tower in Southeast Washington.

The lawmaker does not appear to be in a tough race. Her Republican opponent, Mike Moloney, had not raised any money as of June 30, while Speier had raised $700,000, according to CRP.


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.