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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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financial reform health care lobbying • POSTED - 05.23.11 BY Patrick Simmons

Lawmakers continue to fundraise around health care and financial reform

The 111th Congress may be over but that doesn’t mean the major issues that defined the historic session are settled. Health care reform and financial services regulation, topics that dominated the debate in the 111th Congress, are still being debated in Congress and used as fundraising draws. From January to June of this year, Party Time has received 16 events centered on the financial services industry and 18 concerning health care. Many of these events are being hosted by health care or financial services industry PACs. Two such events are scheduled to take place today.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., is the beneficiary of a “Healthcare Luncheon” today at the offices of Bryan Cave Strategies LLP. Hosting the event will be Bryan Caves’ own Bill Applegate and Chris Rorick, both of whom have lobbied on behalf of several healthcare industry PACs.  The suggested contribution for the event is $1,000.

Monique Frazier, a lobbyist for HSBC Holdings, will be hosting a Financial Services Industry Dinner tonight on behalf of Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., at Wolfgang Puck’s elegant restaurant The Source, located just steps from the Capitol. Contributions for the event are listed as $2,500 for a PAC host and $1,500 for a PAC Guest.

Rep. Ross will also be the beneficiary of a health care-related fundraiser on May 25 at Bobby Van’s Grill. One of Rep. Ross’s hosts is the PAC for the cancer treatment firm US Oncology, which was very active on the Hill fundraiser circuit leading up to last year’s election. Another is the Healthcare Distribution Management Association PAC. Contributions start at $500 for an individual guest and reach $5,000 for a PAC host.

Although these fundraisers are for Democrats, it should be noted that half of the 34 events scheduled so far this year benefit Republicans. And while Party Time often receives hundreds of invitations to D.C. moneymakers each month, it’s also worth noting that Party Time does not receive all of them.

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visualizations • POSTED - 03.25.11 BY Keenan Steiner

The fundraising March is on

The final push for campaign checks is in full swing, with Mar. 31 marking the end of the first quarter. That’s when campaigns have to close their books and, within 15 days, report the contributions they received to the Federal Election Commission.

Based on the invitations we have received so far, there are at least 500 fundraisers planned this month, the busiest month for such events since September 2010, which was just before the mid-term elections.

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The above graph shows the number of fundraisers each month over the past year. Notice that the totals tend to spike at the end of quarters.

The next graph focuses on this month, when fundraising consultants are prodding PAC representatives and donors to send in checks before March expires. There are more than 100 fundraisers scheduled in the last three days of the month. Last week there were nearly 200 such events planned but because Congress is on recess this week, there are only a few—mostly outside the capital—scheduled for this week.

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This week’s out-of-town moneymakers include Rep. Collin Peterson’s, D-Minn., three-day central Florida turkey hunt for his leadership PAC and Mike Ross’s, D-Ark. trip to an Arkansas racetrack and casino, both scheduled for this weekend. On the West Coast, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., planned an eponymously named golf tournament yesterday, according to the invitation.

Next week, Reps. John Barrow, D-Ga., and Tom Price, R-Ga., are each fundraising at Nationals Park on Opening Day. At the upscale Palm Steakhouse, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has planned its second fundraiser this month aimed at labor interests. That comes at a time when state legislatures have passed recent laws to limit public unions’ bargaining rights.

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special interests • POSTED - 01.18.11 BY Keenan Steiner

As House considers health care repeal, members schmooze with industry

Tomorrow, on the day the House votes to repeal the health care reform law, Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., has booked a fundraising lunch specifically catering to health care industry donors.

And as the Republican-led repeal effort unfolds tomorrow, there are nine other fundraisers planned for GOP members of the Energy and Commerce committee such as Guthrie on Wednesday and Thursday alone, giving ample opportunity for health care industry lobbyists and PAC managers to find face time with the crucial players in the health care debate.

The committee will be working on changes to the health care law this Congress, as an all-out repeal is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Other than these events, Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., also on the committee, has planned a duck hunt fundraiser on Friday, with suggested PAC donations of $2,000 or $5,000, in his home state.

Throughout the week, at least 29 fundraisers have been planned for House Republicans and Democrats, according to Party Time’s database.

John Shimkus, R-Ill., one of the top-ranking members on the Energy and Commerce panel, has booked a lunch at Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar in downtown D.C. tomorrow, asking PACs for as much as $2,000 at the event.

On Thursday morning, just before the House is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m., both Guthrie and Shimkus have early breakfasts scheduled at the Capitol Hill Club. That morning, the House will be considering a resolution to instruct relevant committees to report bills to replace the 2010’s health care overhaul law.

Asked about the timing of the events, Shimkus spokesman Steve Tomaszewski said, “They were set before the schedule was changed.”

A vote on the repeal was originally planned for last week but was postponed by House leadership after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and 18 others in Tucson, Ariz.

Neither Shimkus nor Guthrie has confirmed that the events are indeed taking place.

Meanwhile, tomorrow morning, Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., another top-ranking Energy and Commerce member, will be holding court at the Capitol Hill Club, a few hours before Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the panel’s vice chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, has planned a lunch there.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, an advocate of health care repeal and the chair emeritus of the committee, is scheduled to be honored at a “Return to the ‘Hill’” dinner tomorrow night at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse.

Two other committee members — Tim Murphy, R-Pa. and Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., co-chairs of the GOP doctor’s caucus — have made Thursday at noon a convenient time for lobbyists and PAC managers by planning simultaneous fundraisers at the Capitol Hill Club. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Gingrey was one of the top recipients of health care professionals campaign contributions last election cycle; Murphy raked in more from the health industry than any other.

Other GOP House members with scheduled fundraisers Wednesday and Thursday include Reps. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., Thad McCotter, R-Mich., Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Jim Gerlach, R-Penn., Sam Graves, R-Mo. (with two events), and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.

Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, R-Ill., has also included a fundraiser in his schedule this week: a Thursday breakfast at the downtown lobbying firm BGR group.

On the Democrats’ side, Reps. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., and Joe Baca, D-Calif., have scheduled shindigs. Of course, the usual disclaimer applies here: there are likely more events taking place as Party Time does not grab all of Washington’s fundraisers.

Correction: Originally, this post mistakenly stated that Rep. Russ Carnahan represents Kansas. As a reader pointed out, he represents Missouri.

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Partytime • POSTED - 08.21.09 BY josh

How journalists are using Party Time

Party Time exists to provide the public with a free and open database of Congressional fundraisers (if you have access to any events and would like to share them with us, please do so here!). We enjoy investigating and writing about events on this blog, but we can’t cover everything. The following are some recent ways in which reporters have used our database. In many of these stories, reporters use invitations to help illustrate larger themes.

Writing for Politico, Erika Lovley uses Party Time data to highlight a rise in golfing events at public courses as lawmakers and lobbyists shy away from exclusive private clubs. The reason for the switch, she suggests, is twofold. Fundraiser organizers are trying to prevent donor fatigue while increasing attendance and lawmakers are looking to shed some of the negative stereotypes associated with golf in Washington:

Organizers have rethought some golf events usually held in home districts now that constituents are holding on tighter to their wallets. The question is, Can the outings ensure a profitable turnout? …In some cases, consultants say their clients are increasingly sensitive to the stereotype of golf as an expensive, exclusive sport, which doesn’t play well in times of economic struggle.

In an article on the Blue Dog Democrats’ influence on health care reform, Dan Eggen at the Washington Post uses Party Time data to highlight “a steady schedule of events” for Rep. Mike Ross–hosted by health care interests.

Michael Mcauliff of the New York Daily News writes that despite a lack of “lavish bashes” Senator Chuck Schumer likes to fete donors at Yankees games. In fact, the Yankees were his leaderhip PAC’s top single recipient last year, for costs associated with these fundraisers. Mcauliff illustrates the point by highlighting three fundraisers in the Bronx, taken from the Party Time database.

In their NPR Dollar Politics series, Andrea Seabrook and Peter Overby look at what goes into the crafting of important legislation. In their July 9 installment, the writers use an invitation obtained by Party Time to show how industry lobbyists court members of Congress who sit on influential committees and examine the “pay to play” mindset of lobbyists alongside politicians’ views on accepting large campaign contributions from those who their legislation will most greatly effect.

Finally, Justin Rood of ABC News writes about members of Congress soliciting lobbyists with extravagant Abramoff-esque getaways and points to a National Republican Senatorial event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming that we blogged about here.

Edited to add:

Mike Beaudet of WFXT-TV in Boston contrasts the typical cost of sporting event tickets with what donors are willing to pay for access to members of Congress. He uses Party Time invitations to show that the cost of attending Red Sox events is so prohibitively high that only special interests can afford to participate.

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Partytime • POSTED - 07.22.09 BY Nancy Watzman

Blue Dogs party as planned

The Huffington Post’s Arthur Delaney reports that canceled health care hearings this week cleared the calendar for Blue Dogs to fundraise as planned:

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce was supposed to be the third leg supporting health care reform legislation already approved by two other House committees. Instead, this week it’s become more of a fifth wheel. The committee’s markup sessions for Tuesday and Wednesday have been canceled in the face of opposition to the bill from the panel’s conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats.

So Monday’s markup may have lasted past midnight, but on Tuesday evening the committee’s Blue Dogs were free to party, and party they did! Reps. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) feted fellow Blue Dog Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Northwest Washington from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Ross is the lead Blue Dog on health care reform.

Read more here.

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Partytime party crashing • POSTED - 07.21.09 BY Nancy Watzman

HuffPo denied entrance to Ross fundraiser

The Huffington Post’s Arthur Delaney attempted to attend a fundraising luncheon for Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) without success. (You can see the invite for the event here):

Alas, the congressman and whoever else showed up to the 10th floor meeting managed to escape without being greeted by the Huffington Post. (The building had multiple elevators and exits, and this reporter has been told that he is no James Bond.) Ross’ office did not respond to requests for details about the guest list.

Federal law does not require politicians to disclose who attends their fundraisers. The nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation posts invitations for upcoming events on its website, www.politicalpartytime.org, as it acquires them through Hill sources. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, health professionals are the top donors to Ross’ campaign and political action committee for the 2010 election cycle.

On Monday evening Ross declined to tell the Huffington Post what the Blue Dogs wanted from closed-door negotiations with Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who later announced that Tuesday’s markup would be canceled.

If they hailed from the health care industry, it’s no surprise Ross wouldn’t want to share info on his lunch guests, either. Fundraising is a touchy topic as the industry dumps money into politicians’ campaign coffers in hopes of heading off revenue-killing reforms.

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Partytime • POSTED - 07.16.09 BY Nancy Watzman

Health care parties for Energy & Commerce members

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is beginning mark up of the health care reform bill today, have numerous fundraisers on their schedules. See an updated list here. As reported here previously, a number of these parties are hosted by health care lobbyists:

  • Several lobbyists working for the Alpine Group–Rhod Shaw, Greg Means, Jim Massie, and Charles Barnett, planned a dinner on May 20 for Rep. Mike Ross, a Democrat from Arkansas. Their clients include the Biotechnology Industry Association, the Medical Imaging Contrast Agent Association, and the Council on Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals. Ross has collected more than $833,000 in campaign contributions from health care interests over his years in Congress.
  • Rep. Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, is raising money for his 2010 Senate race. An April 23 rooftop breakfast was planned by several lobbyists, including Mark Anderson, Roy Coffee, and Dave DiStefano, who lobby for Humana Inc. (Their firm, Locke Liddell Strategies, provided the rooftop). Sam Geduldig, whose clients include Barr Laboratories was also listed, as was Joe Wall, who represents the Independent Agents & Brokers of America. Blunt has collected $1.6 million in campaign contributions from the health care sector for his congressional races.
  • Another party for Blunt was planned for February 4 at Ruth Chris’s Steakhouse. Four of the lobbyist hosts listed–Mark Isakowitz, Kirsten Chadwick, Mike Chappell, and Samantha Cook–lobby for the firm Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock, where their clients include the Corporate Health Care Coalition, the Coalition for Competitive Pharma Marketing, and the American Insurance Association.
  • A gaggle of pharmaceutical planned a “pharmaceutical meet and greet” breakfast for Rep. John Barrow, a Democrat from Georgia. In an interesting twist, this invitation states “no contribution required.” However, an address is nevertheless is provided for donors who do want to send a check. The pharmaceutical industry has not been one of his biggest donors in the past. The lobbyists are Eli Joseph, who represents Merck & Co; Libby Greer, who also has Merck as a client; Matthew Sulkala, who lobbies for the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufactures Association of America; and Anne Wilson, who represents Pfizer, Inc.
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    Partytime • POSTED - 06.02.09 BY Nancy Watzman

    Health care lobbyists raise cash for House Energy Cmte members

    In Party Time’s continuing analysis of fundraising parties for members of key health care committees (Click here), we have found at least 161 invitations for events for members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee since the start of the year (and counting–we continue to add more invitations here every day).

    Only a small fraction of these contain information about hosts for these parties. However, among these are several featuring health care lobbyists who represent clients such as Humana, Inc., Federation of American Hospitals, and Laboratory Corp of America:

    [Thanks to intern Josh Heath, who helped provide research for this post.]

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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.