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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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2012 Elections 2012 Presidential Race • POSTED - 11.08.12 BY Louis Serino

Partying too hard? Did Romney sacrifice face time with voters for fundraising?

Partiers, you know we love a good bash, and no one has been more energetic in recent months than Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. That’s why they were the top two partiers of 2012! But even we have to wonder – could they have partied too hard?

Look at the record and you can’t help but wonder whether the different fundraising styles of the president and his unsuccessful Republican challenger may have affected the outcome in swing states and thereby, the race for the White House.

Since June of 2011, when Romney officially announced his candidacy for president, both his campaign and Obama’s team spent significant time fundraising in what we like to call ATM states. Think New York, Texas, California. These are places the candidates like to visit because that’s where the money is. In other words, both candidates often opted for attending low-turnout, high-dollar events rather than the town halls and rallies where they could build rapport with citizens in battleground territories. (Sunlighters have even tried to crash one of these exclusive dinners, but with no success – killjoys!)

But when studying which events Obama and Romney actually attended (as opposed to events merely thrown by campaign staff), it is Romney who appears to have been the heartier partier, possibly leaving him less time to establish visibility in crucial purple states.

Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan, also appeared at many solidly red state events even through the end of October, time that could have been utilized to attain crucial votes in toss-ups — one of which, Florida, came down to a fraction of a percent. But Ryan is like the Andrew W. K. of fundraising – he always parties hard.

Comparing the two campaign’s dance cards, one can see the overwhelming preference for safe states, whether it be their own color or their opposition. Take a look at the Obama Victory Fund’s and Romney Victory, Inc.’s top eight fundraising states in that time period:

Romney Victory (209 total parties)_____ ___________ Obama Victory (319 total parties)
California – 25 parties                                                                                California – 50 parties
New York – 17                                                                                                New York – 39
Florida – 15                                                                                                    Massachusetts – 34
Texas – 12                                                                                                       Washington, D.C. – 32
Illinois – 12                                                                                                     Florida – 22
Georgia – 12                                                                                                    Illinois – 20
Washington, D.C. – 12                                                                                Washington – 9
Massachusetts – 9                                                                                         Texas – 9

Romney Victory’s top stops include big blue states like California and New York, as well as ones he had locked up like Texas and Georgia. Obama’s committee also sticks to liberal havens California and New York, in addition to Massachusetts, D.C. and Illinois. Only one battleground state, Florida, shows up on these lists at all; each campaign held about 50 events total in undecided states, a relatively small amount in the time frame. There seems to be no difference here, other than Obama’s camp throwing more parties overall, with high fundraising totals in already decided states that can boost cash rather than votes.

But the pure number of fundraisers, mostly small-scale, private affairs, each candidate has attended differs significantly. According to Party Time data, Romney swept his way through about 114 parties, while Obama appeared at only 86, a difference of 28 overall. Overall, Romney attended 55% of his campaign’s parties, while Obama maintained a more staid 27% pace. OK, presidents are busy guys but this also may have freed Obama up for campaigning in the swing states, turning undecideds in his favor.

Yep, it looks to us like buttoned-down Mitt suffered from a classic case of partyitis.

The timing of Ryan’s fundraising was also questionable. Within two weeks of the election, generally thought of as a time to thrust efforts towards swing state campaigning, Ryan was attending multiple private events to raise cash in hardcore red states. On Oct. 26, he participated in a $25,000 roundtable in Huntsville, Ala.; earlier that same day he attended a $12,500 VIP reception in Greenville, S.C.; and on Oct. 24 Ryan appeared in a $12,500 campaign discussion in Atlanta, Ga. Colorblind as your Party Time guide may be (really), even I can tell that none of these states is exactly purple.

In his defense, the high price tag of each event generated millions for the Romney/Ryan ticket, a valuable asset that purchased a multitude of ad buys across the battlegrounds. But when you consider that Romney’s campaign had $169 million cash on hand on Oct. 17, that’s $8.5 million in per day spending up until the election, one wonders whether they really needed all that green.

Another factor: The date at which each candidate decided to stop personally appearing at fundraisers. The president announced he would be in complete campaign mode on Oct. 11, 9 full days before Romney could say the same. As Obama was tidying up for the night, Romney had just popped his next bottle of champagne — one that he simply couldn’t afford.

Both Romney and Obama declined public funding of their campaign, the first time each presidential candidate has done so since government financing was offered. Each candidate proved they can raise far more than the $91.2 million offered in public funding; their combined campaign expenditures ballooned to over $2 billion. The down side, however, is that Obama and Romney lost valuable campaign time attempting to maintain aggressive fundraising schemes, especially leading up to Election Day — when every second counts.

We knew the parties had to end for one of them. In the end, it was Obama and his supporters that celebrated well into the night, while Romney and the Republicans were forced to turn in early.

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Party Time’s Year in Review Extravaganza

Behold, Partiers: the ultimate political treasure map.

Over the past year, politicians have unearthed valuable bounties at each of the X’s here – in other words, each dot on this map represents at least one 2012 fundraiser contained in our Party Time database of invites. We’ve collected and logged almost 2,700 funders since January, and we haven’t even come close to tracking the total amount hosted (help us by sending your invites here!). This graphic exhibits just a fraction of the political fundraisers hosted, many of which were sponsored by lobbyists or special interests. It can be shocking to see how much money is actually raised – and possibly being used to influence your elected officials. In case you didn’t figure it out already, the blue dots above mark the sites of Democratic events; red stand for Republican. The yellow didn’t fall into our usual neat categories. Click on each dot for the low-down on what happened there.
MORE:Watch Sunlight’s political weather report.

From the usual early morning breakfasts at Johnny’s Half Shell or VIP Receptions at Charlie Palmer’s; to the unorthodox on-stage recliners at a Pearl Jam concert; to the truly exotic London reception at the members only Mark’s Club and private dinner at Jay-Z’s Manhattan night club, it has all added up to one crazy, record-breaking year of fundraising. In this special edition round-up, we’re looking at the top locations for fundraising, the events with the highest price tag, and even traveling overseas to explore which fundraisers stood out from the pack.

The Hosts with the Most
It’s no surprise that the 2012 President of Party Time is Barack Obama. In mid-October, the Fundraising Fanatic surpassed the $1 billion mark – yes, that’s with a “B” – for his 2012 re-election campaign, largely thanks to partying. In 2012, Obama and his joint fundraising committee, the Obama Victory Fund, were the beneficiary of over 290 events. It’s a rate of almost one fundraiser per day!

You might be feeling bad for our number two fundraiser of the year, Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, but don’t; according to that article above, Romney is also approaching $1 billion – again, with a “B.” In fundraising events this year, the Romney Victory Fund has been the beneficiary of about 180 events – still a hundred less than the O-force. And keep in mind these totals are only from invites within the Party Time database – many more parties popped without us ever knowing. How many times do we have to tell you to keep us in the loop?

Both senatorial party committees firmly established themselves in the politics of partying. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee maintained a slight edge this year, throwing about 30 fundraisers to add to their coffers in support of blue candidates. Not far behind was the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the beneficiary of 21 parties for the Republican team.

The biggest party animals in the Senate included both Mass. candidates Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, who have benefited from 27 and 18 fundraisers each. Both politicians need the cash, though, as the race has been the most expensive in the country – it was recently reported that $68 million has been spent so far.

Partying down the House are Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.,and Rick Berg, R-N.D. Both are vying for promotion, hoping to win tight races for Senate seats in their respective states. Flake has held a total of 24 parties in 2012, hoping to earn some green to battle against his surging Democratic opponent Richard Carmona. Meanwhile, the incumbent Berg also finds himself warding off a rapidly approaching newcomer, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. To support his increased campaign efforts, Berg has benefited from 19 events this year.

DC – The District of Cash
Looking at the map, you’ll see the biggest cluster of fundraising dots around – where else? – Washington, DC. Take a peek at that solid ring right around the Capitol building – there are hundreds located just a few blocks from Congress. Inside the Beltway is by far the most popular city to host events, Party Time shows, totaling about 1128 fundraisers this year. This is largely due to hotspots surrounding Capitol Hill. Johnny’s Half Shell, a swanky seafood restaurant (with not-so-great reviews) was last year’s premier fundraising locale, catering to over 90 events. This is no surprise to us though, as Johnny’s has a PT history stretching back over 40 pages. The venue with the second-highest fundraising total was Charlie Palmer Steak, another ritzy restaurant with a great view of the Capitol, hosting almost 50 fundraisers. Follow that with the posh Capitol Hill Club (49 events), the National Republican Senatorial Committee (47 events), and Bistro Bis (38 events) and you’ve rounded up the top five fundraising venues of the past year – all in D.C., and all on Capitol Hill.

Washington has also been home to some of the most expensive fundraisers around. The costliest headliner for 2012 turned out to be a Native American Leadership Council Meeting with Barack Obama. Anyone want to guess the price per individual? $30,000? $40,000? Even $50,000? You’d be close. An individual entry for the roundtable with Mr. President was a prodigious $60,000. Don’t worry though, bringing a partner brought big savings – only $100,000 per couple! Another Obama event held by hedge fund manager Scott. A. Nathan, billed as a “Campaign Conversation with Barack Obama,” had a single price point – $40,000.

And that’s not to say Congress didn’t party hard either. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hosted several receptions with a maximum price of $30,800, including one on Jan. 25 featuring Chuck Schumer and others. And Republicans weren’t missing out – a reception at the Capitol Hill Club with House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor ran PACs $40,000 to “Host.” The District may have been the overwhelming favorite for fundraisers, but several other cities held massive amounts of cash-generating, campaign-sustaining events.

Charlotte and Tampa – The Convention Bump
You may notice unusually large clusters around Charlotte, N.C. and Tampa, Fla., two cities not known for being particularly political. But one factor swelled their totals through the roof – conventions. The Charlotte DNC in early September and Tampa RNC in late August propelled the cities to numbers two and three, respectively, on Party Time’s list of top fundraising cities in 2012.

The DNC produced the single largest data-entry pandemonium at Sunlight, with members of all of our departments pitching in to log invitations. And with good reason; Sept. 4 and 5 were actually the most prolific days of fundraising all year, accounting for 125 and 124 parties, respectively, nearly all of which attributed to the DNC. In total, there were 362 recorded convention fundraisers in those four days (Sept. 3-6). Compare this to the 423 fundraisers Charlotte held all of 2012 and the DNC produced over 85% of all political parties there.

The RNC was no killjoy either, also resulting in top-10 caliber fundraising days. The Tampa area was inundated with parties of all kinds, producing over 180 logged events throughout the convention (Aug. 27-30). In fact, the city played host to 209 fundraisers this past year, meaning RNC events took up 87% of Tampa’s total fundraisers. In an interesting twist, however, President and overall fundraising boss Barack Obama held the most expensive event on our list: A bash at Cigar City with an exclusive Photoline Reception just one month afterwards on Sept. 20. To be an event co-host drained your bank account a colossal $75,800 per person. At least you got a photo with the prez!

The Best of the Rest
With the multitude of fundraisers contained in Party Time, we thought it best to just give you the run down of the rest of our top ten fundraising cities, including some of the highlights along the way. Enjoy the ride!

Number 4: New York City – 69 Parties

  • This $50,000 per plate dinner in the penthouse of The Pierre Hotel proved to be the most expensive fundraiser in the Big Apple in 2012. If you want to know how nice The Pierre is, they have a section on their website entitled “Which Heads of State Have Dined Here.”
  • The royalty of politics and hip-hop collided on Sept. 18 when Jay-Z and Beyonce hosted a fundraiser for Obama at the 40/40 Club in Manhattan. A lucky schoolteacher from Pennsylvania won a contest to join the dinner, which ran donors (and losers) $40,000 to attend.
  • This next event isn’t necessarily a fundraiser, but an interesting event nonetheless. Romney invited his top bundlers to the Waldorf Astoria for a weekend full of events, like a discussion with Paul Ryan, campaign updates with Team Mitt, and even a performance by comedian Dennis Miller. One part of the weekend certainly raised some cash though – a “speed call-a-thon” on behalf of the bundlers, who were expected to rake in $2 million in just 45 minutes. Sounds like a fundraiser to me!

Number 5: San Francisco – 36 Parties

  • An invite that PT intercepted initially through email, this Obama Victory Fund party was one of the most star-studded of the year. Food prepared by Alice Waters and Tyler Florence, and a guest list that included John Legend, Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers and Obama himself. A plate of that delicious food would come with a $20,000 bill – a bargain according to the Obama Victory Fund!
  • Mitt Romney wouldn’t be outdone, however. His luncheon with Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz was $50,000 per plate!

Number 6: Chicago – 25 Parties

  • Chi-town may not be in a swing-state, but Obama sure made some lucrative stops in his hometown this year. His 51st birthday bash, which the Obamas hosted in their own home, ran guests a cool $40,000. Now that’s a party to crash.
  • But Republicans also picked up some change in this Democratic stronghold. That is, if you define “change” as a $75,800 Reception and Dinner with the VP at the swanky Palmer House Hilton.

Number 7: Los Angeles – 25 Parties

  • This one is special – the most lucrative fundraiser of all Party Time! On May 10, George Clooney opened his doors for an Obama fundraiser that included actress/model Stacy Keibler, DreamWorks studio executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, designer Diane Von Furstenberg, Barbra Streisand and her actor husband James Brolin. The price was $35,800, but Obama hauled in a record-shattering $15 million dollars! We here are PT are still in awe of such miraculous fundraising.

Number 8: Boston – 23 Parties

  • Bean Town was bountiful for both candidates in 2012. But Obama takes the cake here; his wicked cool $40,000 Campaign Roundtable at the home of Boston advertising legend Jack Connors carried the highest price tag in the city.

Number 9: St. Petersburg – 21 Parties

  • Situated right next to Tampa, St. Petersburg definitely received a boost of fundraisers from the RNC happening just a few miles away. In fact, almost all of the events occurring there in 2012 happened in late-August, right when the convention took place.

Number 10: Denver – 16 Parties

  • A swing-state capital, the Mile High City sure got some extra special attention from the candidates this year. But the biggest event was again captured by Obama when he benefited from a reception hosted by the Futuro Fund, a Latino group that backs the President. The event co-host sponsorship included a greeting with Obama, photo reception and premium seating for the general reception – but cost $40,000.

International Intrigue
If you think the parties are limited to the U.S., think again. In 2012, no one is safe from the effects of American political fundraising. Check the list below to check out this year’s more exotic fundraisers – with some international intrigue.

The United Kingdom – 4 Parties

  • London was the site of all four of the U.K.’s events, including a $40,000 dinner for Obama hosted by fashion designer Anna Wintour along with Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Ford. Romney countered this with an even steeper $75,000 (that’s about 50,000 quid, mate) private dinner with financiers from the banking industry. Thank the Queen for us!

France – 4 Parties

  • Much like the U.K., all of France’s fundraisers were centrally located in its own capital city, Paris. But, interestingly enough, all of the events benefited Obama. Maybe it’s because France is in love with the President - over 72% of its people favor him for a second term – and disillusioned with Romney.

Switzerland – 3 Parties

  • The neutral nation broke from its reputation by only hosting Obama fundraisers in 2012. Most notably, while the RNC was happening across the Atlantic, Obama’s favorite Hollywood pal jetted to Geneva for a $30,000/couple dinner.

Jerusalem, Israel/Shanghai, China/Cairo, Egypt/Stockholm, Sweden – 1 Party

  • Stretching from Western Europe to the Far East, the presidential hopefuls threw parties across the world. Obama took advantage of his international appeal with several receptions in Sweden, Egypt, and China. Only one of these was thrown for Romney; a $50,000/couple event in Jerusalem that some called a “love fest,” yet left others outraged by his remarks on Palestinian culture. But at least it raised over $1 million, thanks in part to conservative mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. Of course, all the donors at those overseas fundraisers were American citizens — or should have been.

Bonus PT Fundraiser of the Year
We here at Party Time see a lot of events happening across the country every single day. But there is one party that stands out from the rest – Montana Sen. Jon Tester’s “Best Seats in the World” sweepstakes. Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament is a longtime friend of Tester’s, and the two paired up to offer supporters some extra special tickets to the band’s concert at Missoula. It’s a bold claim, but here’s what it entailed – grand prize winners got sit in recliners on-stage during a Sept. 30 performance, VIP passes backstage, admission to pre-show events with the band and Tester, and hotel and airfare expenses. OK, so those definitely live up to the hype. And although the contest is long over, PT salutes the winner – with that killer beard and mustache combo, Steve from Billings definitely deserves it.

So there you have it. The entire fundraising year (mostly) covered in a single post. We have seen parties in 47 states (sorry West Virginia, Mississippi and South Dakota–but have reminded you lately what to do if we missed parties in you state?) and even around the world, hosted by thousands of people of all different political backgrounds. Now we just have to wait for Election Day to see if all those parties contributed to a successful campaign, or if all that champagne was popped in vain.

Until next time, Partiers!

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2012 Elections 2012 Presidential Race • POSTED - 10.12.12 BY Louis Serino

VPs Take Center Stage in Debate (and Fundraisers), Romney’s big bucks slumber party, and an end to Obama’s fundraising career?

(Updated 10/13/2012 6:00 p.m.)

Vice President Joe Biden and new best friend Congressman Paul Ryan fought it out at “The Thrill in the ‘Ville” yesterday, verbally sparring in a lively and heated debate. Win, lose or draw, both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney are hoping their VPs performance helped rocket them into the lead for the White House. Mere weeks now remain before Nov. 6, and each presidential candidate is ratcheting up their fundraising efforts for that final bump – or are they?

President Obama says he is done with fundraising. Finished. Forever! At least that’s what his national finance committee wrote to supporters, saying, “I can’t believe I am sending this email. The final finance event with President Obama is here.” Find out what the big finale event is and more below!

Obama’s Victory Fund Isn’t Done Yet
Although the president himself may not appear at future events, the Obama Victory Fund is still on fire, hosting no less than 10 events in the upcoming week. Several of these will be headlined by Joe “Bunch of Stuff” Biden, ramping up his financial efforts with three events in four days. He’ll start Saturday by attending a musical evening at a private residence in Connecticut. To hear the dulcet tones of TV actress Audra McDonald, you’ll have to pay at least $1,000, with costs rising up to $20,000. He’ll then travel to Sin City on the 15th for a $25,000/$5,000 per plate dinner at the Bellagio, one of Las Vegas’s iconic hotel-casinos. The revenue rush continues the very next day for Biden, slated to appear at a toned-down “Hometown Assembly” in the swing state of Colorado. Prices go as low as $50 for general admission, but it’ll take $7,500 for a group photo with the VP.

Other than Joe, supporters in NYC can join Obama’s better half at a reception in Long Island, with prices to chat up Michelle rising to as much as $10,000. If you prefer a little international flare with your fundraisers, you can throw back a Guinness at a reception in Ireland! Watch out for the tab though, that pint will cost up to $5,000.

Republicans Raking Dough for Romney
Not to be outdone by Biden, potential Vice President Ryan has been going on his own spree of fundraisers for Romney Victory, Inc. He’ll be at Spanish tapas restaurant Solera in Minneapolis’ Theater District, but it comes with a maximum $50,000 price tag.

And Romney’s big fundraisers are invited this week to a two-night slumber party starting Monday at Manhattan’s iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel. They’ll be able to schmooze with Ryan as well as plutocrat-turned-would-be presidential kingmaker Donald Trump and join a Tuesday debate-watching party with comedian Dennis Miller. These details are all courtesy of Boston Globe reporter Matt Viser’s account. We also thank him for sharing the schedule.

Ann Romney will also be out fundraising for her husband, appearing at a swanky soiree at the Hilton in Harrisburg, Pa. To walk and talk with Mrs. Romney, it is a mere $1,000 per couple, but to wine and dine with her, it is $15,000 per couple.

Flake’s Fundraising Frenzy
Republican Jeff Flake (born in Snowflake, AZ – weird on many levels) is the representative of Arizona’s sixth district, but he’s currently locked in a dead heat with Democrat Richard Carmona, who served as surgeon general for the nation’s last Republican president, George W. Bush. We know what that means – bring on the fundraisers! Flake’s scheduled at least eight from now ’til election day. Next week, he’s organized an “Afternoon at the Creek” at Hidden Valley Ranch – no, not the famed creamy salad dressing creator. It’s actually property owned by fellow Arizona politician John McCain, and it’s known as his “Sedona Ranch” (though it’s not even in Sedona, but rather a neighboring town). But judging by this Google Maps image, it’s certainly hidden.

Don’t count out Carmona though, as he’s been hauling in a fair chunk of change recently as well. A recent Politico article notes that the Democratic nominee has raised approximately $2.2 million dollars in the third quarter alone. Financial reports for the period are due to land at the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

Toss Ups!
Republican Rodney Davis is hoping his campaign for an Illinois congressional seat gains some momentum from a fundraising appearance by conservative big dog John Boehner. The dinner and reception will also have members Aaron Schock, John Shimkus, and Adam Kinzinger, costing folks between $5,000 and $250. It is also ranked as a “toss up” by Real Clear Politics and the Cook Political Report, both of which have Davis tied up with Democratic opponent David Gill.

In Virginia, former Gov. Tim Kaine is competing against Republican George Allen (also a former governor and a former senator) in a close race for the seat Allen once held. To boost his funds, Kaine’s hosting a reception in Charlottesville, Va., where supporters can shell out from $1,000 to $100 to attend. Allen has held multiple events in October as well, and hopes to reclaim his former place in the Senate.

Fundraising while Beer Tasting!
Rep. Judy Biggert may have figured out the key to an irresistible fundraiser – make sure there is plenty of beer there! In this week’s “Most Fun Fundraiser,” The Illinois Republican is hosting a craft beer tasting to benefit her campaign. Tickets to the event range from $1,000 to $100, with a variety of potent potables to be served. PT has a hunch that this may be a successful fundraiser!

Those are the highlights to next week’s political finance events. As always, let us know if you’ve got an invite by uploading it here. Stay tuned to see if Obama’s pledge to end fundraising rings true – or if it’s just a bunch of malarkey!

Until next time Partiers!

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2012 Elections 2012 Presidential Race • POSTED - 10.05.12 BY Louis Serino

PDFS – Post Debate Fundraising Syndrome, McCaskill Responds, and Fall Getaways!

Maybe you watched it on NBC. Perhaps you streamed it online. You might have even caught it right here at Sunlight Live. No matter what screen your eyes were glued to, and no matter who you think won the first presidential debate (can we all concede that the biggest loser was Big Bird?), the fundraising show must go on.

And go on it will. Check out highlights of the week’s calendar below.

Presidential Fundraising:
This weekend has become an absolute blockbuster for White House hopefuls. Obama has a non-stop schedule of fundraising out West that we detailed and discussed in a recent blog post. His modern-day gold rush includes two concerts (with artists like John Legend, Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder and more) and two top-of-the-line dinners – one of which will feature cuisine crafted by Alice Waters and Tyler Florence – the bill for that will run you $20,000. And this doesn’t even include the up to $40,000 per plate breakfast with Bill Clinton in LA, nor the $10,000 Mimosa Reception with Dr. Jill Biden hosted by fashion icon Andre Leon Talley.

But the fun(-draising) won’t stop there. The Obama Victory Fund has six more events planned this week, such as the newest installment of “Chords and Conversation” with James Taylor (he’s done this before, folks), and the “We Are One/Estamos Unidos” rally in Miami. The O-force will certainly be rolling in the green this week.

But the Romney campaign won’t be lagging too far behind. VP candidate-turned- fundraising megatron Paul Ryan will return to his home state on Saturday for a dinner at the elegant Pfister Hotel that escalates to $100,000 if you’d like to be a “Founding Partner.” The next day he’ll be at a brunch in Illinois that costs a minimum of $10,000 to grab a seat (but rises to a maximum of $75,800). In this week’s “Blast From the Past Fundraiser,” former-VP Dick Cheney will be the special guest at round table right outside D.C. To see Cheney it’ll cost you, though – $5,000, to be exact – but when is the next chance you’ll get to hear “Darth Vader“ speak?

Romney will also be getting a boost from an unlikely source – GOProud, a gay conservative organization, and host of HomoCon. While the $50 price tag will go directly to GOProud, they will be announcing their endorsement of the Romney/Ryan ticket – even though Romney opposes many gay rights, such as marriage equality. Fabulous?

Fall Retreats!
As the autumn months come, many people think about camping trips and weekend hikes through the fall foliage. Candidates are thinking the same way, with several hosting multi-day fundraisers. First, John Boozman, R-Ark., is taking his supporters fishing on the majestic White River of Arkansas. For $2,500, you too can snag a canoe seat!

For those of you who would prefer not to rough it, Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is whisking his donors to the South Carolina shore for a weekend of golfing and fun. The event takes place at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island (a swanky looking place indeed) but PT is unsure of the price – let us know if you have the 4-1-1!

Lastly, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., is having a “Get-Away Weekend” for her fans. The invite says “Getaway to the Desert” but the address actually leads you to the Morongo Casino Resort. Let’s hope donors don’t lose much more than the $1,000 they’ll be paying just to attend!

McCaskill Responds
We noted last week that Todd Akin went on a fundraising spree, hosting several events last week and raising thousands of dollars. It appears that his Democratic competitor for Missouri Senate, Claire McCaskill, is trying to raise some green of her own. She’s heading to San Francisco for a $2,000 luncheon on Thursday. Recent polling shows that McCaskill still has a slight edge in the race – will the last-minute fundraising help secure victory?

Election season may be entering the home stretch, but there’s still more debates – and always more fundraisers – to go before all is said and done. Until next time, Partiers!

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 10.02.12 BY Louis Serino

The (Political) Gold Rush: Go West!

President Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, are proving that you no longer have to sift through the California riverbeds to strike gold– all you have to do is ask.

Exhibit A: Party Time sources have clued us into an exclusive, high-end dinner on Columbus Day that Obama will be attending. And partiers, we mean high-end: Celebrity chefs Alice Waters and Tyler Florence will be providing the food, and Bay Area stars like John Legend and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will be in attendance. The event will seat 100 lucky guests, for a substantial $20,000 per plate.

But, if you can believe it, this one-of-a-kind experience is being billed as an unprecedented bargain by the Obama Victory Fund. Party Time obtained an email sent by OVF Northwest Regional Finance Director Autumn Sample that claims they have “never offered an event with POTUS of this style at the $20,000 price point, so sell it y’all!”

Scroll down to the bottom of the invite to catch a peek at the email dug up by our source.

But this isn’t the only major event that Obama will be dropping by. Directly after the dinner, Obama will head to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for a concert headlined by perennial Obama supporter/blogger John Legend and Michael Franti. Tickets top out at $7,500, dubbed the “Golden State” package, and run down to $100, known as “Muni.”

If that weren’t enough, the day before will almost be an almost perfect mirror, only taking place in LA. Oct. 7 kicks off with a star-studded “30 Days to Victory” show featuring Katy Perry, Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder, Jon Bon Jovi, and Earth, Wind and Fire – a line-up that might even justify its $2,500/$1,000/$250 asking price. Also in attendance will be San Antonio Mayor and DNC wunderkind Julian Castro. Could Obama be grooming him for a possible 2016 bid?

At the concert Obama will not let up, attempting to perform fundraising “Inception” – a fundraiser within a fundraiser. That’s right, the President will host a backstage photoline reception while the concert is still happening. Now that’s working double-time.

Once the final note has played, Obama will rush to a $40,000 Co-Host/$25,000 Guest dinner in the City of Angels. The invite isn’t specific, but a meal at that price point usually comes with a surprise guest of honor – could Bubba be showing his face there too? It’s certainly a possibility, considering he and Julian Castro will be attending a breakfast at the home of media mogul Michael King (he launched The Oprah Winfrey Show!.. and Dr. Phil) in nearby Pacific Palisades, a swanky celebrity neighborhood “where the mountains meet the sea.” Dropping $40,000 per couple supplies a greeting, photo opp, and premium seating, but settling for $1,000 will get you a seat at the table.

But the Romney campaign hasn’t ignored the Golden State either, holding two $50,000+ fundraisers in late September. The first took place in historic Strawberry Hill, where Romney himself entertained guests that paid up to $100,000 for the pleasure of his company. The second was a celebrity reception with stars like Gary Sinise, Patricia Heaton and Dennis Miller and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

California has certainly drawn in presidential interest, even prompting some to say it’s “getting some swing-state-level love.” Despite its firm Democratic position, both Obama and Romney have extracted millions there, largely thanks to high-end soirees from Beverly Hills to the Bay Area.

The gold rush may be long over, but the presidential candidates are proving that California can still produce political gold. Eureka indeed.

(Illustration: Duncan1890 via iStockphoto.com)

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 09.28.12 BY Louis Serino

Party Time Week Ahead: Fall Fundraising, Akin Revival, Pearl Jam and Politicians

Updated Sept. 30, 8:13 a.m. ET

As the foliage turns from deep green to burnt orange and yellow, a new season descends upon the nation – debate season! (What were you thinking?)

We’ve got invites galore, including a dream concert-going experience for the guy with Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., below (with that intriguing beard/moustache combo, he deserves it). Read – and party – on.

With less than 40 days until the presidential election, both candidates at the top of their tickets are kicking campaigns, and fundraising efforts into overdrive. Always send PartyTime your invites so we’re up to date! Thanks, Partiers!

Obama bowls a strike on debate night
The Obama team has a whopping seven events scheduled for Oct. 3, the night of the first presidential debate in Denver. Four of these make up a cross-country bowling extravaganza, with debate-watch parties from coast-to-coast at Lucky Strike Lanes locations in San Francisco, Miami, New York City, and D.C. And if that weren’t enough, former president and Obama superfan Bill Clinton will be at a $20,000 per person round table in Boston.

Ann Romney at the Adelsons
And while President Obama is closeted in Las Vegas for debate prep on Monday, his GOP rival’s wife will be the guest of honor at GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson’s home in one of Sin City’s swanky suburbs. Tickets for the event run from $10,000 to $1,000, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Laura Myers has learned. Got the actual invite? You know where to send it.

Ryan on the move
Not to be outdone, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has gone on the offensive, attending at least four events in the next week. Ryan will be hustling around Connecticut on Sunday afternoon, attending a roundtable at 11:45AM followed by a reception at 2:30PM, each with a maximum suggested donation of $10,000. Ryan’s hectic schedule continues as he jets to NYC the next morning for a $10,000 breakfast at the city’s “ premier Nordic restaurant.”

Todd Akin – back from the dead?
Is Todd Akin on the greatest comeback trail ever, or is he just clinging to a forgotten dream? Many questioned his ability to legitimately stay in the race, but since Akin proved resolute and stayed in the race many Republicans have flocked to him – with cash too.  Capitalizing on this positive news, he has four fundraising events planned in just five days next week. He kicks things off by catching a St. Louis Cardinals ballgame, hoping to mimic his team’s recent success. He then returns to the beltway for not one, not two but three events at a cute townhouse property known as Eastgate, however the costs for these are unknown. The increase in money may bring newfound success for Akin, but he may stumble again while running to home plate.

Allen’s conservative hootenanny
George Allen is locked in a tight race for the Virginia senate with Tim Kaine, so he boosted his fundraising campaign considerably. He highlights this week with a BBQ party at downtown D.C. eatery Hill Country on Tuesday, and it’s slathered in Republicans. Amongst the myriad congressional guests are House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent.

Tester is jamming:
Montana Sen. Jon Tester is involved in a heated race of his own, but has received a truly rockin’ endorsement – from the legendary band Pearl Jam. Bassist Jeff Ament is a longtime friend of Tester’s, and the two paired up to offer supporters “the best seats in the world” to the band’s concert at Missoula. It’s a bold claim, but here’s what it entails – grand prize winners will get to sit in recliners on-stage during the performance, VIP passes backstage, admission to preshow events with the band and Tester, and hotel and airfare expenses. OK, so those definitely live up to the hype. PT hates to be the bearer of bad news, but this guy already won. To be fair, “Steve from Billings” sure looks excited.

While the leaves around D.C. may shift their hues, the color of PartyTime will always be green. Until next time, Partiers!

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This Week’s Fundraisers: The Democrats take over Charlotte, Romney fundraising, and a Dove Hunt in Oklahoma

As convention season continues in all its glories, the time has come to shift gears — or rather, switch aisles — as we move from the Republican convention into the Democratic convention events.

As far as party tallies go, the Democrats have left the Republicans in the dust. Party Time has logged more than 400 events in Charlotte, about double the entertainment schedule in Tampa. As for the non-convention invites, this week we only have a few, but those include two for the Romney campaign.

Here are the highlights:

The Dems flock to the Old North State: As the Republicans leave Florida, the Democrats head to North Carolina, where President Obama eked out a 2008 victory that he’d like to repeat this fall. Some of the more offbeat events on the Democratic convention party calendar:

On Sunday, amidst all the delegation welcome parties the Democratic National Convention will be hosting a class on formal dining etiquette at the Academy of Etiquette & Charm in Charlotte. Mayhap it is an opportunity for attendees to brush up on their manners before attending the many breakfasts, brunches, lunches, receptions and dinners that the convention featurs. So, if you are a little bit nervous on this front before attending your parties, bring your $75 and be prepared for a two hour lesson and a three course training meal (an empty stomach may be best for this part!).

Prepare for the zombie apocalypse! Actually not really, but something pretty close. IMPACT Film Festival is sponsoring a screening of How to Survive a Plague at the convention on Tuesday at the Mez & EpiCentre Theatre at 10 a.m.

Late that same evening, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund will be hosting a Sex, Politics and Cocktails party. Fund President Cecile Richards will be featured at the party. There is no record for the cost of this event.

Nuns on the Bus is a Thursday event sponsored by Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby. It’s a bus tour that has traveled cross country to showcase the work of the Catholic sisters, according to the invite. The invite indicates that the sisters will also talk about the downsides of the budget proposed by GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee.

For those who wouldn’t want to miss out on their daily workout during their convention trip, the Democrats have you covered. From Tuesday to Thursday, Center for Integrative Medicine and Wellness will be hosting a Zumba/Cardio Funk Dance Fitness session. This event is also free and open to the public.

Obama Campaign in Cali: As a celebration of President Barack Obama’s re-nomination, the Obama Victory Fund will be hosting a reception on Thursday at the private home of some Los Angeles supporters. In order to help host the event, individuals are asked to hand up $1,000. A “supporter couple” gets in for $750 while an individual supporter coughs up $500.

Romney campaign back to fundraising: So far we know of two fundraisers for the Republican ticket. On Wednesday, the Salt Lake City Tribune has learned, VP candidate Paul Ryan will be in Utah’s capital for a reception, where tickets run from $1,000 to $25,000. There’s this invite for a Thursday reception that actor Robert Duvall will be hosting at his home in Virginia horse country for well-known equestrienne Ann Romney. Is the Republican ticket holding other fundraising events? Let us know.

Hunting Doves in Oklahoma: If you love dove hunting, or are just interested in trying something new, Rep. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., will be having his 8th Annual Oklahoma Dove Hunt at the Quartz Mountain Lodge and Resort in picturesquely-named Lone Wolf, Okla. Tickets run from $250 for a reception without the hunt to $2,500 for a “gold level” political action committee, according to the registration form on the Inhofe campaign’s website.

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This Week’s Fundraisers: Republican convention in Florida, Obama campaign in Sweden

Brace yourselves: convention season has begun.

This week, the Republican National Convention has taken over the Party Time database with more than 200 events and we are still receiving and uploading more invites! The invitation haul we received this year tops the 2008 convention number by more than 100 (and counting). And while we also have a handful of the usual events landing in our database (the Obama campaign is staying active throughout the week, for example), they pale in comparison to convention action.

Copious conventions

The Republican Convention officially starts on Monday, with quite a few kick-off celebrations on Sunday, and lasts until Friday. The convention will include fundraisers, of course, as well as concerts, receptions, luncheons, parties, beach bashes, bar bashes, general-purpose bashes and so much more. Here are some of the highlights:

One of the Sunday’s several kick-off events is a party “welcoming the media and political elite.” This “Full Lid” party will be held in St. Petersburg with prices ranging from $250 to $2,500.

GOProud is hosting yet another “Homocon” at this year’s convention on Tuesday night, after all the day’s festivities come to an end. The event, which will be held at the Honey Pot night-club in the Ybor City neighborhood, features several special guests including Amy Kremer, chair of the Tea Party Express, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform and David Keene, former chair of the American Conservative Union. The event is free, however sponsors who pay $2,500 per person or 3,500 per couple get entry preference.

There will also be several beach events. After all, what’s the point of being in Florida without enjoying the water?  Boots on the Bay is one of these events which, according to the invite, will feature a private beach setting and local seafood hors d’oeuvres. Tickets for this Tuesday event cost $5,000 for five tickets, but discounts are available when tickets are bought in bulk: for $50,000, you can nab for 55 tickets.

The Republicans will be rocking out throughout the week with various concerts on the itinerary. Bands/musicians featured in concerts:

For a full glance at these and the more than 200 other events happening in Tampa, be sure to visit our convention search page.

And, if you are attending any convention events let us know, send us info, and help us help you!

For example, several of the parties are for state delegations and are going to be underwritten by corporations. We would like to help you track the influence and find out who is ingratiating themselves with the political class and what benefits they will be seeking in return when the lawmakers are back to business next year.

Here’s how you can help: If you do attend an event, you’ll surely spot written material thanking sponsors. Grab that material (notes, photos, scanned copies, etc.) and upload (if you wish to remain anonymous) or email them  (partytime@sunlightfoundation.org) to us. We’ll post them to Party Time!

Obama campaign at home and abroad

While the Republicans are raising up a storm in Florida, the Obama campaign will be making two pit stops in the home land before flying abroad.

The vice president kicks off the campaigning week with a Sunday reception in Provincetown, Mass. It costs $250 to get in the door, but for $25,000, donors can “chair” the event and greet the vice president, get a photo, and attend a pre-reception.

That same day, the campaign will also host a Seattle family fun day with a special performance by children’s music band, Recess Monkey. Tickets start at $100 per family and go up to $500 per family to “sponsor” the event.

Then it is back over to Geneva, Switzerland, where Americans Abroad for Obama and actor George Clooney will be hosting a reception. Matthew Barzun, former U.S. ambassador to Sweden and former national finance chair will also attend the reception. Guests are asked to contribute $1,000. A photo opportunity costs $5,000, while dinner will be served for $20,000 per person or $30,000 per couple.

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This Week’s Fundraisers: Ballin’ with Obama, Romney, Ryan fundraisers and more

Updated 8/21

It’s going to be another slow week as we lead up to the Republican National Convention, Party Timers, with just over 20  events in the database. But the presidential tickets are busy. Here are the highlights:

Ballin’ with Obama: Two of the president’s campaign committees are holding eight events between them this week, both of them playing up on Obama’s known love for the sport and offering sponsors the chance to shoot hoops or meet some of basketball’s greatest stars.

Obama for America starts of the week with a grassroots fundraiser on Tuesday at a private home in California. The event, which will feature “wine, food, poetry and conversation” encourages contributions of any amount, but for a chance to enjoy the entertainment offered, donors have to contribute at least $100.

The next day, the Obama Victory Fund will take over, hosting an all-star dinner with the president himself in New York city. Some of the NBA’s and WNBA’s finest, such as Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Dawn Staley and Sheryl Swoopes are expected to attend. Michael Jordan, famed as the greatest player of all time, will be co-hosting. Tickets for a photo reception and dinner with the president and the all-stars will cost $20,000 per person.

In a sweepstakes event, Obama for America offered one lucky winner (and guest) a chance to shoot hoops with some of the same stars from the all-star dinner (including Michael Jordan) and the president. The campaign gave entrants a choice to donate $15 to $1,000 although, the fine print reads that no such contribution is necessary to enter the event. Other than shooting hoops, the grand prize includes a round-trip ticket, hotel accommodations, and tickets to another event with the president. The approximate retail value of the prize is $3,200, according to the invite.

Also on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden will be partying on behalf of the president, attending a reception at the historic Hecker-Smiley mansion in Detroit. The event, hosted by the Obama Victory Fund will cost $5,000 for hosts and $2,500 for guests.

Continuing on the same day (it is a basketball-filled Wednesday for the Obama campaigns), the Obama Victory Fund, still in the Empire State, will host another basketball all-star event. There is no record of which all-stars will be attending this event but guests can get into an autograph session with the players for only $250. Two individuals who want to have a “Shoot-around skills session” with the players however will have to cough up $5,000.

On Thursday, Michelle Obama will headline an Indianapolis fundraiser. This is a resked of an event that was postponed from last month after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. The same day,  the Obama Victory Fund will be taking it overseas to Sweden for a reception with Obama’s National Finance Chair (and former Ambassador to Sweden), Matthew Barzum. Individual tickets cost $250 while couples get in for $450. Ex-pats should remember that only citizens may contribute to campaigns so passports should be at the ready.

Back in the homeland, on Friday, Lawyers for Obama as well as the LGBT Leadership Council will be hosting a morning reception for the Obama Victory Fund. Tickets range from $50 to $2,500. Attorney Robert Bauer, who has served as Obama’s White House counsel and Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement are listed as special guests.

The nation’s veep will finish off the week in Bridgehampton, N.Y., at yet another reception at a private home. Rep. Timothy Bishop, D-N.Y. and Sens. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., are expected to attend the event as well. Tickets start at $500 for young professionals while co-hosts have to dole out $10,000. For an extra $1,000 contribution, a limited edition print by Mary Heilmann will be awarded, according to the Obama webpage.

Romney hits the money trail: The GOP nominee to be will be spending the week ahead of his party’s presidential convention trolling for more cash. News reports have him passing the hat on:

We have uncovered two of the invites for Romney’s Texas events. He starts off with a Tuesday luncheon, featuring Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, at the Houstonian Hotel in Houston. Attendees have the option to raise $150,000 to host or raise or contribute $50,000 to attend.

Romney will then be in Midland for an evening reception and dinner later in the day. Former Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas., are expected to attend the event, among other hosts. Dining with the nominee comes at the hefty price of $50,000 per couple. Couples could also opt to raise $200,000 for Romney Victory, Inc. instead. Tickets for a photo-op and private reception cost couples $10,000 or $25,000 if they opt to raise. The general reception costs a mere $2,500 per head.

The next day, Romney will be in Little Rock for another evening reception. Couples wanting to go to the chairman’s reception will have to either raise or contribute $25,000, while the photo reception comes at $10,000 in either donations or bundles. The general reception will cost individuals $2,500. Attendees will also have the chance to become a part of the Romney Victory Founding Membership for $50,000 per person, or they can raise $50,000 to attend a private dinner with Romney.

There are also reports that Romney will be hitting Louisiana this week. Got the invite? You know what to do.

New veep pick’s cross-country fundraisers: Romney’s chosen running mate, Wisconsin representative, Paul Ryan, will be fundraising on behalf of the Romney Victory, Inc. this week. Party Time does not have very many details about these events (such as the cost and who might be attending) however Ryan is slated to be attending:

Other events: The National Republican Senatorial Committee will be holding a summer cookout at its headquarters on Wednesday. Tickets cost $1,000 per PAC or $100 per person.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. is inviting her supporters to Orlando, Fla., for a Universal Studios weekend. Party Time does not have much details about the event, but if you would like a change of scenery be prepared to contribute $1,500 per person or $2,500 per PAC.

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This Week’s Fundraisers: Obama Cashing in with Celebrities, Romney in Alabama and more

It’s looks like a slow mid-August week, Party Timers, with a fewer than 15 events in our admittedly Beltway-centric database. Remember that the nation’s lawmakers are officially on their month-long holiday so parties may be slow for a while. However, if you know of any interesting fundraisers — especially those coming up in Tampa and Charlotte — be sure to fill us in!

On to the highlights:

Obama Cashing in with Celebrities: It’s not slow for President Obama’s campaign. Along with the usual campaign fundraisers there will be a (belated) birthday celebration in Chicago and some hob-nobbing with celebrities.

The president and his wife will kick off the fundraising week Sunday in different cities: Michelle Obama will be in Los Angeles for a party at a reception in her husband’s honor at a private home. That event will cost between $2,500 and $25,000.

Mrs. Obama then will head to the Beverly Hills home of singer and fashion designer Gwen Stefani for a ‘Sunday of Fun‘ with members of the American rock band No Doubt. To co-chair the event with the celebrities and Mrs. O, individuals have to dole out $25,000. A family photo opportunity comes at a hefty $8,000 while a couple photo-op costs $5,000. General admission for a family of four (that is, two adults and two children) will cost $1,000.

While his wife is in the Golden State, the president will be in his hometown of Chicago for a four-fundraiser day, including an exclusive party at his home for a few close friends able to pony up $40,000 a ticket and a Gen44 birthday celebration. To play on the president’s 51 years, VIP admission will cost $551 (this includes the VIP reception and ropeline placement), preferred admission $251, while general admission will be $51.

Later in the week, on Wednesday the Obama campaign will be hosting a reception with the cast of The Wire, an American TV drama. The event, which will be held at Martha’s Vineyard, will cost hosts $2,500 and guests $500. The campaign won’t be quick to leave the Vineyard however. On Friday they will have yet another fundraiser, a dinner, in the area. This one logs in at at $10,000 per couple or $5,000 per individual.

Romney in Alabama: GOP nominee, Mitt Romney will be in Birmingham, Ala. on Wednesday for a reception. Party Time does not have many details for this event, but it will reportedly cost between $5,000 to $25,000.

Update 08/13, 1:15 EST; Romney will also be in Nantucket on Saturday for a reception and dinner at a private home. Party Time doesn’t have any record for the ask of this event or who else will be in attendance.

Other Interesting Events: For those who are interested in getting out of the capital and heading for a different climate in Colorado, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, will be hosting a Broadmoor summer retreat to benefit the Free State PAC. Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., John Thune, R-S.D. and Rep. John Boozman, R-Ariz. are all expected to attend the retreat which starts on Sunday and goes until Tuesday. Party Time has no record of the ask for this event.

Fishing fans may be interested in the annual “Hook ‘n Bullet” event for Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. The two-day event starts on Tuesday on the Silver Springs Angus Ranch in Picabo, Idaho. Again, we are not sure of the ask for this event.

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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.