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.Tweet
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.
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.
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.Tweet
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.Tweet
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.Tweet
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.Tweet
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.Tweet
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:
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.]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.