Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Chris Dodd set off a firestorm of criticism last week when he suggested that Hollywood would withhold campaign money from President Obama and lawmakers who don’t toe the Hollywood line on online piracy.
Losing support of the entertainment industry would not be insignificant for the president: In 2011, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg gave $2 million to Priorities USA, the super PAC backing Obama. Another major bankroller is Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax Films, who along with Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour last August co-hosted a $71,600-a-couple fundraiser for Obama at his New York home.
But so far at least, Party Time hasn’t detected any slowdown in the entertainment industry’s enthusiasm for the president, despite the White House’s decision to put the brakes on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Just a few days before the White House raised concerns about the legislation, which is being enthusiastically backed by the entertainment industry, Obama was raising funds at the New York City home of director Spike Lee.
In addition, Party Time records show a Feb. 7 Runway to Win fundraiser scheduled for the Obama Victory Fund 2012. Hosts for the event include: Wintour, actress Scarlet Johansson, hip-hop moguls Sean Combs and Russell Simmons, singer Beyonce, and fashion designers Diane Von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang. Party Time records also show a Jan. 9 reception fundraiser in DC featuring featuring singer-songwriter Sarah Bareilles. Both the fashion and music industries support SOPA.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, the SOPA debate has set off a $100 million lobbying war. Both the entertainment companies who back SOPA and the tech giants who oppose it have lined up blue-chip lobbyists who are regulars on the Party Time circuit.
Former Rep. Victor Fazio, D-Calif., now a lobbyist at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, represents AT& T, a proponent of SOPA. He was one of the hosts at a dinner fundraiser benefiting Democrats Win Seats, the leadership PAC of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a SOPA supporter and the Democratic Party’s national chair. Reps. Karen Bass, D-Calif and Ted Deutch D-Fla., both SOPA supporters, and Reps. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Bruce Braley, SOPA opponents, were listed among those scheduled to attend. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Senate Judiciary Committee member and one of the four co-sponsors of PIPA, has had several fundraisers featuring lobbyists from tApple (has not formally stated a position on SOPA), the Motion Picture Association of America, Time Warner and Time Warner Cable.
And as we’ve previously told you in this space, companies backing SOPA have held several fundraisers benefitting Reps. Howard Berman, Adam Schiff, Joe Baca and Mary Bono Mack of California .
Not to be outdone, the tech industry, which sent a powerful message Jan. 18 about its distaste for SOPA on popular websites such as Google, Wikipedia and Craigslist, has been well represented on the Party Time circuit.
Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., a member of the Judiciary Committee is one of the 27 co-sponsors of SOPA; on the day of the online protest, he issued a press release withdrawing his support, saying his constituents have “made clear” their opposition to legislation. Alex Vogel of Mehlman, Vogel and Castagnetti, who once worked for then-Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist, was one of the four hosts for Griffin’s reception in early December of last year. Vogel clients include CC Media Holdings, eBay Inc., Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and Yahoo! Inc. Yahoo! and eBay are opponents of SOPA. Also hosting the fundraiser were other lobbyists representing a range of communications interests, including some on both sides of the SOPA debate: Marc Lampkin, who represents AT&T, Microsoft Corporation, Sony Corporation and Visa Inc. Kathryn Lehman, who represents Google Inc. and Verizon Communications, and Susan Hirschmann, who represents Comcast Corporation, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Recording Industry Association of America; US Chamber of Commerce and Visa Inc.
Sen. John Cornyn R-Texas, the chairman National Republican Senatorial Committee and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee member, is another former backer of anti-piracy legislation who shifted his position. Cornyn’s Alamo PAC had two fundraisers featuring a lobbyist from Clear Channel, Verizon Communications and AT&T, all supporters of SOPA. But after the online protest, the Texan took to Facebook to share misgivings about the legislation those companies are backing.“Better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time,” Cornyn wrote.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., also once supported the anti-piracy bill but now opposes it. According to Party Time records, he had a fundraiser hosted by lobbyists Doyle Barlett and Becky Relic. Barlett represents clients such as Comcast Corporation, eBay, and the US Chamber of Commerce. Relic represents eBay. Another supporter-turned-opponent, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., had a fundraiser in which three of the hosts are lobbyists who represent Comcast, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Time Warner Cable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
There are a few lawmakers who have not formally expressed a stand on SOPA. One example is House Oversight Committee member Rep. Ed Towns, D-N.Y. At his 25th Annual Taste of New York fundraising event, Towns had lobbyists representing both sides of the SOPA debate as hosts. Paul Braitwaite, a lobbyist for the Podesta Group represents Google, Time Warner Cable and the National Association of Broadcasters is listed as one of the hosts. The list of hosts for Towns event also included Roger Mott with Verizon Communications, Lyndon Boozer of AT&T, Matt Gelman of Microsoft and Jesse McCollum, a lobbyist with the Eris Group representing the Comcast Corporation.Tweet
Over on Sunlight’s reporting site is a story about the blurred separation between official staffers and the campaign staff of Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., before a crucial House vote on a bill to overhaul the financial regulatory system.
Using Document Cloud while doing research for the story, we made over 100 notes to the House Committee on Ethics report, which cleared Crowley and two other lawmakers of granting special access to Wall Street interests. In the notes, we have provided background information and links on the lobbyists who are featured on rarely-seen fundraiser attendance lists and who exchanged emails with the three lawmakers’ staffers leading up to the events.
We have also noted some of the Ethics Committee’s main arguments and some interesting details about Washington’s fundraiser culture in the annotation:
*In some cases, prior to going to a fundraiser, attendees (or their PACs) have already committed contributing a certain amount. For instance, KPMG committed $2,500 for a John Campbell, R-Calif., event on Oct. 21, 2009, but the campaign did not disclose receiving the check to the Federal Election Commission until about a month later, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, making it much harder to link a campaign donation to an official action, as the report found.
*The three members’ chiefs of staff and top legislative aides attended many of their fundraisers. Rep. Campbell’s legislative aide for financial services said he goes to about three quarters of his boss’s fundraisers.
The report also includes some interesting tidbits and partisan jabs:
*One lobbyist modestly questioned how appropriate Campbell’s financial services fundraiser was, considering it was the night before a crucial markup on the overhaul bill.
*Asked why his boss held a fundraiser on the same day as the vote, Rep. Tom Price’s, R-Ga., chief of staff compared the Democrats to the The Boy Who Cried Wolf because they “had a habit of yanking votes.” He said he had no way of knowing the vote would actually happen when they said it would.
Party Time even plays a role in the investigation:
*The lawyers for both Price and Campbell used Party Time’s data in their client’s defense. Campbell’s lawyer noted that members of the Financial Services Committee hold similar fundraisers all the time. Committee members put on 109 of them between Oct. 21 and Dec. 11, 2009, he wrote.Tweet
Three lawmakers did not give special access to Wall Street interests at fundraisers around the time of a key House Wall Street regulatory reform vote, the House Committee on Ethics has found, in dismissing a probe yesterday. Rather, the events’ coinciding with crucial votes was by chance, according to the findings.
By concluding that the lawmakers did not even act in a way which appeared improper, the Ethics Committee, an official House body made up of members of Congress, disagreed with the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. That body argued last summer that there was “substantial reason to believe” that each member “solicited or accepted contributions in a manner which gave the appearance that special treatment or access was being provided to donors.”
You can view the over 600-page report here. In the next couple of days, we will be annotating it using Document Cloud.
The report found that the the congressmen’s fundraising consultants arranged the events without coordinating with the members’ official staff. Each member “typically” did not know about the fundraisers until right around the event’s occurrence. Members’ votes were based on “significant legislative concerns,” not requests from donors. And the attendees did not have substantive discussions with members at the fundraisers, according to the report.
The three lawmakers are Reps. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., Tom Price, R-Ga., and John Campbell, R-Calif. Last summer, the OCE dismissed probes into five other lawmakers’ fundraising with Wall Street interests and recommended that the Ethics Committee investigate the trio. Three Crowley and Campbell events were scrutinized while one of Price’s was considered.
The report includes a summary of the three lawmakers’ legislative positions on the bill and amendments over time and an account of what actually happened at the fundraisers. It also includes OCE investigation documents such as the events’ attendees, interviews with the lawmakers and their staff and email exchanges between, for instance, Rep. Crowley’s staff and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
At a Dec. 10, 2009, “Financial Services Luncheon” with Rep. Price, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., was a special guest and made brief, general comments to the crowd. Price’s chief of staff attended but did not discuss the Wall Street regulatory overhaul bill (H.R. 4173), the report said. Over 2,500 people were invited, according to Price’s fundraising consultant, and the event was initially planned for October but was postponed, the report found.
As we read and annotate the report of next couple of days, there will be more details to come. To start, here are two of the Campbell fundraisers and one of Crowley’s:Tweet
Well before the midterms, a small group of GOP lawmakers, three quarters of whom serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, were already looking towards the next fundraising campaign.
The four congressmen arranged for a “Post Election Trip in Miami” this weekend as early as Oct. 8, when a GOP fundraising firm sent out email invitations asking for $2,500 from PACs and $1,500 from individuals to benefit each member’s political action committee. Other invitations from the National Republican Congressional Committee mistakenly called for $5,000 PAC donations, as The Hill reported. All four won re-election easily.
One of the lawmakers, Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., was among the House’s top recipients of health care professionals’ campaign dollars for the midterm elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. At least for him, the retreat is on, according to his campaign’s finance director Elizabeth Rhodes.
Another trip planner, Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who is vying to chair the Energy committee, is a favorite of the pharmaceutical and health products industry among his House colleagues, according to CRP.
The Energy and Commerce Committee may try to chip away at parts of the Democrats’ health care overhaul next year, and its ranking member, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, has said he would investigate the decisions of the Obama Administration’s top health appointees.
Gingrey has said he wants to repeal the law because it would slash doctors’ salaries and discourage people from entering medical school.
The health sector leads all others in donations to Gingrey’s campaign and PAC, and his top donors include pharmaceutical company Abbot Laboratories, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons and OB-GYN PAC, according to CRP. The Georgia lawmaker, a former practicing physician, and Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Penn., a former psychologist, founded the GOP Doctors’ Caucus last year.
Murphy, who also planned the Miami getaway, gets more donations from the health and energy sectors than any others.
Also going along, invitations show, is John Campbell, R-Calif., who does not sit on the committee and gets most of his donations from the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector, CRP’s data shows.
Calls to Murphy, Shimkus and Campbell were not returned by the time of posting.Tweet
Yesterday, we reported that one of the fundraisers held by Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., during the 10-day period under scrutiny by the independent ethics board, was at the Capitol Hill townhouse owned by Mike Legg and Christopher Perkins.
The Campbell event was planned for Dec. 9 at 123 D St., SE, the townhouse and offices of Legg, Perkins, and Associates, LLC, a lobbying firm that focuses on homeland security and defense issues.
Reached for comment yesterday, Legg said he lends his house out to members on both sides of the aisle. “We don’t host, we just let people use it,” he said, adding that he would have to check his records to see who hosted the Campbell event.
After that initial call, Legg and his partner Perkins have not returned any of our several calls. When asked how they decide who holds fundraisers at their home, Legg said, “There’s really no rhyme or reason to it.”
Since June, the Office of Congressional Ethics is looking into whether any fundraiser held during a brief period in December 2009, where there were lobbyists for the financial industry present, had any influence on lawmakers’ vote on the financial reform bill. And earlier this week, the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended to the House Ethics Committee that it go forward with investigations of three of the eight Congressmen. Campbell is one of those three, along with Tom Price, R-Ga., and Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.
It is unlikely though that Legg, Perkins and Associates, LLC hosted the event because all of the fundraisers in Party Time’s database (which does not capture all D.C. fundraisers) at that address are for congressmen or candidates with defense or homeland security connections, many of whom sit on congressional committees responsible for those fields.
Campbell, on the other hand, has a seat on the Financial Services Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.
The firm lobbies on defense issues for a few firms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Perkins also lobbies on stem cell research for the company NeoStem.
Both Legg and Perkins served in the military for more than 20 years. Most recently, Perkins was the director of legislative affairs for the United States Special Operations Command, according to his website bio. Legg also served in USSOCOM’s legislative affairs office.
As we reported yesterday, the e-mail invitation to the event at Legg’s D Street townhouse was sent out on Nov. 17, 2009, from Michael Gula of the GOP fundraising firm, the Gula Graham Group, and asked donors to attend a “California Wine Tasting” headlined by Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. Gula wrote:
“The wine tasting will be at 123 D St., SE right around the corner from the [Capitol Hill Club]. We will have multiple wines from California to try. Any chance you can do $500 of $1K to help Congressman Campbell?”
The e-mail also asks donors to a fundraiser earlier that day at the Capitol Hill Club.
The financial regulation bill was voted out of committee on Dec. 2 and passed by the House on Dec. 11. In its dismissal letters to the five congressmen the OCE let off the hook, the panel focuses on this time frame.
Here is Party Time’s original post on the ethics inquiry, written in June.
[Note: In the June post we wrote that the Campbell's Capitol Hill Club lunch occurred on Dec. 8. However, we corrected this later based on another e-mail invite submitted to Party Time.]Tweet
The three congressmen that the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended for investigation into whether they broke ethics rules around the time of the Financial Regulatory Reform bill late last year attended multiple Capitol Hill fundraisers on the days leading up to crucial votes on the bill.
Earlier this year, the independent OCE opened an investigation into 8 lawmakers who received a high level of campaign contributions from the financial industry leading up to the House vote to approve the overhaul on Dec. 11. The OCE dismissed the cases of five lawmakers, and recommended that the House Ethics Committee go forward with three, the New York Times reported.
Here’s what we know about the three lawmakers’ fundraisers: Joseph Crowley’s, D-N.Y., evening fundraiser occurred at the home of a lobbyist who was paid to lobby on the bill, and the event took place while the House was debating a series of amendments that would have strengthened the bill. The invitation to Tom Price’s, R-Ga., fundraising luncheon, also on Dec. 10, was specifically aimed at the financial services sector.
The connection between the fundraisers held by John Campbell, R- Calif., and the financial industry is less clear. One of the two events he held on Dec. 9 was at the home of defense industry lobbyists Christopher Perkins and Fleming “Mike” Legg.
All three lawmakers have influential finance-related posts. Crowley is the vice chair of finance at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and serves on the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. Price is the chair of the Republican Study Committee, and he and John Campbell sit on the Financial Services Committee.
In one of the dismissal letters, obtained by the Times, sent to Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the OCE hinted at why they cleared these five lawmakers, and why the three others may be in hot water. Hensarling was found not to have: “solicited or accepted contributions in a manner which gave the appearance of special treatment or access was being provided to donors or the appearance that the contributions were linked to an official act.”
The e-mail invitation to the event at Legg’s D Street townhouse was sent out on Nov. 17, 2009, from Michael Gula of the GOP fundraising firm, the Gula Graham Group, and asked donors to attend a “California Wine Tasting” headlined by Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. Gula wrote:
“The wine tasting will be at 123 D St., SE right around the corner from the [Capitol Hill Club]. We will have multiple wines from California to try. Any chance you can do $500 of $1K to help Congressman Campbell?”
The e-mail also asks donors to attend another fundraiser earlier that day, a lunch at the Capitol Hill Club, a private GOP club steps from the Capitol, headlined by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
As for Crowley, during the Dec. 10 debate over amendments, he left to attend his holiday fundraiser at financial sector lobbyist Julie Domenick’s home, which doubled as her office. He then came back to vote against amendments that would have strengthened the bill, the Times reported.
Domenick told the Center for Public Integrity that she was asked in early November if the Crowley campaign could use her home for a holiday party, and that the event had nothing to do with the House votes. At least two dozen fundraisers have been planned at her home these past two years, according to Party Time’s database.
Crowley was supposed to attend two other events on Dec. 9 and 10. He was listed as a host for an Adam Smith, D-Wash., fundraiser at a Capitol Hill eatery. The day before, he was scheduled to be at another Hill watering hole, Charlie Palmer Steak, to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – he serves as the group’s vice chair for finance.
Price’s lunch was also at the Capitol Hill Club, headlined by Financial Services Committee ranking member Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. Price also held a fundraising breakfast there on Dec. 2, the day the overhaul bill was voted out of committee.Tweet
As part of its ongoing investigation into whether eight lawmakers broke ethics rules by taking large campaign donations from the financial sector before a landmark financial regulation vote, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has requested documents from lobbyists who hosted fundraisers at that time, according to a report in today’s New York Times.
The Party Time database contains invitations for fundraisers for seven out of eight of those lawmakers, all scheduled during the two days preceding the December 11 vote. The Times story today focuses particularly on two December 10 parties: Rep. Joseph Crowley’s, D-N.Y., fundraiser at the townhouse owned by financial industry lobbyist Julie Domenick and Rep. Tom Price’s, R-Ga., Capitol Hill Club lunch, where Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee, was billed as a guest.
These eight lawmakers are getting the attention of the OCE, but as the Times story notes–and the Party Time database shows–there were plenty of other fundraisers occurring near the time of the key vote. Take Domenick’s home as an example.
In all, Party Time has two dozen fundraiser invitations for events at the Domenick townhouse from Feb. 2009 through April 2010, including several parties right before the Dec. 11 vote. On Dec. 2, the townhouse was scheduled to be the site of a fundraiser for Rep. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., with Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, listed as a guest. On Dec. 9, Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Md., planned a fundraiser. Kratovil is a member of the Agriculture Committee, also involved in the Wall St. reform.
According to Party Time records, Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Paul Hodes, D-N.H., (who is running for Senate), Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Ron Klein, D-Fla, all Financial Services Committee members, invited donors to parties at Domenick’s home in early 2010. Rep. John Boccieri, D-Ohio, planned a party there for February, where Crowley was listed as a guest.
We don’t know if Domenick, who lobbies for the Investment Co Institute and Federated Investors Inc., attended these events or just allowed her home to be used. Domenick recently sold her house, according to this May report.
Party Time has often tracked fundraisers occurring while key legislation is being debated in Congress. Last month we blogged about (and made a spreadsheet) all of the invitations to fundraisers we had on file for the 43 lawmakers serving on the conference committee for the financial reform bill. We also pointed to invitations for fundraisers scheduled for some Democratic members during the final days of the conference.Tweet
The Party Time database shows that seven of the eight lawmakers currently being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics for holding fundraisers or receiving major donations just two days before the House vote on the Wall Street reform bill, have invites for fundraisers that took place within the time frame of the Ethics probe.
The probe is focused on whether the timing of accepting the campaign checks 48 hours before the vote on December 11, 2009 created an unacceptable appearance of a conflict, the Washington Post reported today. The Ethics Office has sent letters to lobbyists requesting information about these donations, the Post also found.
According to our database of fundraising invitations, which is by no means complete, the following lawmakers sent invitations to the fundraisers listed below which were set to take place on December 9, 2009 or December 10, 2009:
• Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., planned a December 10, 2009 “Financial Services Luncheon” featuring Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., at the Capitol Hill Club. Guests and political action committees could attend by donating anywhere from $500-$2,500.
• Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., planned a December 9, 2009 reception at Democratic National Headquarters titled “Bojangles’ Fried Chicken, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, and Mel Watt, of course!” Individuals were asked to contribute $500 and political action committees $1,000.
• Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., planned a December 9, 2009 “California Wine Tasting” that cost participants anywhere from $500-$1,000. The distribution for the wine tasting event was paid for by the Gula Graham Group a fundraising and political consulting firm. Campbell also planned a December 8, 2009 lunch at the Capitol Hill club where guests could pay anywhere from $500-$2,000. The event also featured special guest Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
• Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., planned a “Last Call” breakfast on December 9, 2009 at the Capitol Hill Club. The invitation prominently displayed his position as a ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, and a member of the House Financial Services Committee and House Science and Technology Committee. The cost to attend was $500 per person and $1,000 per political action committee.
• Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., planned a “Holiday Reception” on December 9, 2009 for “max out donors only” who could attend for $1,000 per political action committee or co-sponsor the event for $2,500 per political action committee.
• Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., planned a December 10, 2009 breakfast at the offices of Davis and Harman LLP where guests could pay anywhere from $500-$2,000 to attend. The firm has several financial firms as clients.
• There are no invitations on file for the two-day time period of the probe for Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who is also being investigated. However there are plenty of other invites for Hensarling in our database. According to the Post, Ethics investigators want to know about the 10-day period before the vote when he raised at least $30,000 in case from financial firms and their advocates.
The 2008 House Ethics Manual states:
“The Standards Committee has long advised Members and staff that they should always exercise caution to avoid even the appearance that solicitations of campaign contributions are connected in any way with an action taken or to be taken in their official capacity.”Tweet
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.