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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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Uncategorized • POSTED - 03.30.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul hit the road to headline fundraisers; Republican heavy-hitter Paul Singer hosts party for Winning Women

As members of Congress head home for an enviable two-week break – just as spring kicks into gear, no less! – the fundraisers that usually clog the streets surrounding Capitol Hill hit the road, too. Although Party Time has learned to never say never, our social calendar (so far) has nary a D.C. event in the next two weeks.

Party people, we could use your help as we keep track of what politicos are up to while in their home districts. Is your representative a fundraising fiend while back among his constituents? Does your senator party hard with supporters at her favorite local hangout? We want to know! Upload fundraiser invites with our handy (and confidential) tool right here, or you can email us whatever you’ve got.

Turning our focus to this week’s out-and-about political parties, PT notices the continuing trend of potential 2016ers hitting the money trail hard. The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary may be 10 months off, but there’s plenty of cash to be collected in the meantime. After all, as the Republican National Committee’s new chief of staff said recently: “If you can get people to give money, that’s a much bigger get than getting people to vote for you.” Ah, democracy.

Jeb Bush continues his fundraising tear/tour across the country with three stops in California this week. The former Florida governor and likely presidential candidate hits up well-heeled SoCal donors, first in picture perfect Newport Beach on Monday and then in fancy pants Bel Air. Maria and Robert Tuttle, longtime supporters of the Bush family (Robert gave big bucks to President George W. Bush’s campaign and was the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom during his second term), will host Tuesday’s fundraiser for the Right to Rise super PAC at their L.A. home, with tickets going for $25,000 to $100,000. On Thursday, Jeb Bush heads to the Bay Area for another super PAC fundraiser, this one hosted by school choice activists Bill and Susan Oberndorf and financial guru Jay Kern and his wife, Katie.

– It’s been one week since Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made official his run for the White House, and Party Time already counts three fundraisers for the presidential candidate (in fact, on the same day he announced his campaign, Cruz partied in Manhattan). On Tuesday evening, Cruz and his wife, Heidi, will hobnob with their fellow Houstonians at Goode’s Armadillo Palace, a BBQ joint meets music venue.

– Yet another potential presidential candidate graces PT’s calendar this week. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will have a dinner on Monday night in Florida for his joint fundraising committee. Tickets start at $250 and go up to $2,700 per plate.

– In a reminder that not all partying is presidential partying, five Republican members of Congress will get an assist from GOP sugar daddy Paul Singer. Tuesday’s lunch in New York will benefit Winning Women, a joint fundraising committee Singer set up in 2014 to help out specific House and Senate candidates. Funds raised at this week’s event go toward the campaigns of New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Arizona Rep. Martha McSally and Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock.

And that’s a wrap on your week in political parties, friends! What have we missed and what have you heard about? Let us know!

Photo courtesy Flickr user Gage Skidmore

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2016 presidential • POSTED - 03.18.15 BY Peter Olsen-Phillips

With 2016 elections in sight, it’s not a bad time to be a pol in Iowa

Fresh off the 2014 campaign trail, first-term Iowa Rep. David Young, R, has already dived headfirst into the money chase. And his seat in a state with the earliest of early presidential nomination contests guarantees visits from plenty of party leaders.

On April 8, Republican presidential prospect and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will trek to Council Bluffs, Iowa, population 61,000, to join Young at a pizza parlor funder benefitting the freshman congressman.

Tickets for the general public start at just $25, but admission to a special “Private Sponsor Event” runs from $250 to $1,000.

Four-figure fundraising dinners are generally confined to eateries within walking distance of Capitol Hill, or a handful of other posh restaurants scattered around Washington, but the pull of a potential presidential nominee can be a powerful incentive for opening wallets.

It’s not the first such occasion for Young.

The announcement of the Council Bluffs get-together comes just days after a local fête with another former governor and 2016 hopeful. On March 6, Jeb Bush attended a $1,000-and-up party in Urbandale benefitting Young’s campaign.

Though we are more than 300 days out from the Iowa caucuses, GOP frontrunners are already busy jet-setting from one early voting state to the next, glad handing congressmen and helping out local politicians.

A glance through Perry’s twitter feed shows the Texan recently made pitstops in both New Hampshire and Florida in recent weeks.

The fundraising in those early states has already begun to pick up. Party Time’s records show 18 Iowa fundraisers already on the books in 2015, including visits from other potential 2016 contenders like Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., and dark horse candidate Donald Trump.

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 02.25.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

Will Jeb Bush, Chris Christie win over conservatives at CPAC 2015?

The Conservative Political Action Conference kicked off its four-day lovefest on Wednesday afternoon, with a fistful of Republican personalities and White House hopefuls aiming to solidify their conservative bona fides and connect with the party’s activists.

The yearly confab, hosted by the lobbying organization the American Conservative Union, always promises plenty of red-meat speeches and presidential positioning. But with 2016 shaping up to be one of the more wide-open presidential contests in recent memory, this year’s agenda features a particularly long list of speakers. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are all slated to deliver remarks.

And at the end of last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got added into the mix. Although Christie scored a standing ovation (even before he started speaking) at last year’s event, CPAC organizers snubbed the governor in 2013, just months after Christie memorably embraced President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

The down-to-the-wire addition of Christie is noteworthy, since the brassy governor has seen his stock fall slightly among Republicans within the past few weeks. The New York Times reported that New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, a big-time Republican donor who has hobnobbed with Christie at Republican fundraisers, has opted to back Bush and his all-but-certain presidential run. Johnson reportedly attended two recent fundraisers in the Chicago area for Bush’s political committees.

Bush’s recent trip to Illinois wasn’t all about the parties, though, since the former governor dipped his toe into foreign policy territory with a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The appearance got mixed reviews, and Bush’s uncertain delivery resulted in a Politico article that wondered how his introverted personality would fare on the campaign trail.

On Friday afternoon, Bush will look to quell that narrative with a Q&A session with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. A knock-it-out-of-the-park showing at CPAC could endear Bush to the Republican base, long wary of his more moderate stances on education and immigration. In December, for example, radio talk show host Mark Levin – who will speak at CPAC on Saturday morning – said Bush is “a very good moderate Democrat” and “very boring.”

Throughout his fundraisers and public appearances, Bush has carefully avoided saying the words “Common Core” – the federal education benchmarks that have become synonymous with big government among conservatives – even though he supports the standards. Even if the topic doesn’t come up during the Friday Q&A, the subject still gets the CPAC treatment on Thursday with a breakout session titled “Common Core: Rotten to the Core?”

Wednesday afternoon’s activism training gets the ball rolling, but CPAC begins in earnest on Thursday morning with an 8:40 a.m. talk by Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and conservative darling flirting with a presidential run. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst speaks during a noontime tribute to veterans, and Walker, Jindal and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin close out the day with back-to-back-to-back speeches.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham get things started on Friday, and RNC head Reince Priebus, Donald Trump and NRA chief Wayne LaPierre follow with remarks throughout the day. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will keynote Friday night’s Ronald Reagan Dinner. Saturday features a full day of breakout sessions about religious freedom, government spending, abortion and gun rights, as well as the results of the conference’s all-important straw poll, which provides a snapshot of how conservatives feel about potential presidential candidates. (Paul won the poll last year.)

One-day passes go for $125, but premium tickets – which get attendees priority seating at breakout sessions and admission to the Ronald Reagan Dinner and meet and greets – are $1,700 at the door.

Photo credit: CPAC

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 02.23.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Sen. Amy Klobuchar throws a women’s breakfast, Kamala Harris fundraises in D.C., conservatives rally at CPAC and Jeb Bush- and Hillary Clinton-aligned super PACs party in Tampa

Congress is back from its “district work week” that found most members in their home states, and that can only mean one thing, party people: Our social calendar is packed with D.C. fundraisers.

Yes, in between meetings and votes and floor speeches and media interviews, politicians will venture off Capitol Hill to glad-hand donors, aiming to fill up their campaign coffers for 2016.

We’ve got a good amount of parties on the books this week, but what else have you heard about? Share whatever you’ve got with your friends at Party Time! You can email us or upload the goods right here. And remember – we keep our sources 100 percent confidential, so you can feel comfortable sharing.

Here are some highlights to get your week started …

– Last Friday, we told you about how Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was working the ladies, throwing a high-dollar “winning women luncheon” with a rising GOP star, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, as the headliner. Come Tuesday morning, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is following suit with a “winning women breakfast” at law firm McGuire Woods’ K Street office. Notable hosts for Klobuchar’s fundraiser? Mega lobbyist and wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Linda Daschle; lobbyist Kelly Bingel; the Podesta Group’s Claudia James; and longtime Hillary Clinton friend Donna McLarty.

Kamala Harris heads to the nation’s capital this week in search of some sweet D.C. cash for her Senate bid in 2016. The current California attorney general announced last month that she’s running for the seat long held by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, and Wednesday evening’s fundraiser is Harris’s first D.C. event of the campaign.

CPAC, the yearly love fest that brings together conservative activists and politicians, descends on the National Harbor Wednesday for its four-day confab. More and more names get added to the speaker list by the day, but so far, it includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Tickets are $125 per day, and a premium pass (which includes priority seating and admission to receptions and “meet and greet opportunities”) goes for $1,500.

– Tampa is the place to be on Tuesday for presidential prognosticators on the right and the left! Right to Rise super PAC, Jeb Bush’s 2016 support group for his campaign-in-waiting, is having an evening reception at the Grand Hyatt where donors are asked to fork over between $1,000 and $25,000 to attend. The former governor of Florida is the event’s special guest. Meanwhile, fewer than 10 miles away, Hillary Clinton supporters will rally at a fundraiser for the Ready for Hillary super PAC.

Those are your highlights, party people! If you’ve got a fundraiser invite to share, send it right here.

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 02.02.15 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Sen. Rand Paul goes to Iowa, Rep. Gwen Moore raises money over breakfast, Sen. Harry Reid revs up for 2016, and a Democratic challenger to Sen. Rob Portman parties in D.C.

Hello, party people! After a jam-packed January full of 2016 positioning, we are diving right into February, hearts full of anticipation. What will this next month bring?

Already, Party Time can tell there is plenty more presidential politicking on the horizon. On Thursday in Washington, the American Principles Project – a nonprofit that advocates on social conservative issues – hosts two governors who have their eyes on a higher office. Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., will keynote a lunchtime discussion about hot button topic Common Core, where tickets go for $50 a plate. In the evening, former Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, will headline the Red, White & Blue Gala. Tickets to the dinnertime event (which provides an outfit challenge if we’ve ever heard of one: it’s a cocktail attire affair, and attendees are encouraged to don red, white and blue garb) start at $300 and climb to $15,000.

This week brings with it an uptick of parties on our calendar, but we just know there’s more happening out there. Friends, what have you heard about? Send us whatever you’ve got – we will take it all! Email us the goods, or upload official invites right here.

And now, let’s get to those parties!

Ready for Rand
While Perry and Jindal do the grip and grin with conservatives in D.C., another GOP-er who’d like to move into the White House makes his way to Iowa, the all-important location of the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul touches down in the Hawkeye State on Saturday yet again for a handful of events.

Paul starts out his day at a 9 a.m. meet and greet fundraiser for first-term Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa. Democrats already are angling to unseat Blum, who replaced Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley when the latter opted to run for the Senate seat vacated when longtime Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, retired. Gary Kroeger, a Saturday Night Live cast member in the ’80s who is now the creative director at Mudd Advertising, is interested in Blum’s 1st District seat, according to a recent National Journal article.

In the afternoon, Paul is slated to party with students at the Iowa State Center. The get-together is put on by RANDPAC, the senator’s leadership PAC, and the invite promises that the “first 100 students in the door get a free Rand Paul phone case.” It’s a smart move, because (a) that’s free publicity, and (b) everyone knows college kids will do just about whatever for a free anything.

Paul’s one-two punch in Iowa comes a week after he snagged the head of the Texas Republican Party, Steve Munisteri, as an adviser for that growing presidential team. And (not coincidentally?) Paul also delivered the keynote at last Friday’s Reagan Day Dinner for the Dallas County Republican Party.

Moore money
After spending a decade on Capitol Hill, Rep. Gwen Moore has a grasp on what makes a good party. Party Time’s records show that the Wisconsin Democrat mixes the traditional with the sassy, hosting plenty of luncheons and dinners but throwing in a fundraiser or two at a Lady Gaga concert or a basketball game. In fact, after she got sworn in on Jan. 6, she hit up donors at a Marquette-Georgetown game at the Verizon Center. Busy day!

Come Tuesday morning, Moore plans to breakfast with supporters at PT hotspot Johnny’s Half Shell. Individuals can snag a spot at the 2015 Welcome Back Breakfast for $250, but PACs are asked to throw in anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. We’ve got to hand it to Moore for how upfront she is about this multipurpose meal: The invite calls this a “welcome back” fundraiser, but explains that money raised will go toward her reelection campaign. Turns out, everybody’s got their eye on 2016.

Harry parties like it’s 2016
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has had a rough few months. After the Democrats lost the Senate in November, Reid got demoted to the chamber’s Minority Leader. Then, over the holiday break, Reid had a bizarre exercising accident that led to broken ribs, an eye patch and then surgery.

But you can’t keep Harry down. Despite the setbacks, the Capitol Hill fixture says he aims to run for a sixth term in the Senate. And to prove his point, Reid is throwing a party for his 2016 race.

On Thursday, Jake Perry and Anne Brady (both longtime Dem operatives who now work for lobbying shop Crossroads Strategies), will host a D.C. fundraiser for Reid and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Shindig for Sittenfeld
Sen. Rob Portman announced in December that he wouldn’t launch a bid for the White House, but that doesn’t mean the Ohio Republican won’t have a tough race in 2016. The first-term senator already has a Democratic challenger by the name of P.G. Sittenfeld, a 30-year-old member of the Cincinnati City Council.

In mid January, Sittenfeld told his hometown newspaper that he wanted to run for the Senate and just a few weeks later, he’s got a fundraiser in Washington. That’s a quick turnaround, if you ask us! A handful of well-connected D.C. Democrats will party with Sittenfeld and some early-on supporters on Thursday at the home of Susan Sachs Goldman, a local writer and member of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Board of Governors.

And with that, we wrap up your week in political parties! What are we missing and what have you heard about? Send whatever you’ve got right here.

Photo courtesy Pixabay

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.15.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

Oddball PT Round-up: Party Time’s top 10 zaniest political fundraisers of 2014

pennants reading "Top 10" over party hats

Party people, the year is quickly drawing to a close and you know what that means: A look back at the best – as in, creative/kooky/oddball – parties of 2014! (If you know of a winner that we don’t have, you know what to do! Send it right here.)

As we thumb through the year that was, we are struck by all of the strategic partying that went down, especially in the run-up to the midterms. We watched potential 2016-ers Hillary Clinton, outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., crisscross the country and cozy up to campaign contributors. And wouldn’t you know it … some of those donors just happened to be in key presidential primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

The partier-in-chief himself was a force to be reckoned with, too, headlining 71 fundraisers this year, according to Party Time’s data. Although any presidential party is noteworthy, everyone seemed to get extra excited when President Obama partied with Gwyneth Paltrow. Especially Paltrow.  “You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly,” she told the president at the party at her L.A. home. And, just a few days later, Jon Stewart made late-night comedic hay out of Obama’s fundraising stop at the Connecticut home of real estate mogul Rich Richman.

Headline-grabbing aside, here are some of the wacky ways politicians drummed up dollars in your yearly roundup of the wild world of political fundraising. Drum roll, please!

10) Party Time really, really wanted to be a fly on the wall for this event: Former President Bill Clinton headlined a luncheon for Georgia’s Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn at Usher’s house in Atlanta. We had our fingers crossed for a Bubba-on-the-sax rendition of “DJ Got Us Fallin in Love.”

9) Rep. Loretta Sanchez caught our attention with two creative fundraising ploys this year. First, the California Democrat had a pricey mani/pedi party in March at Tammy’s Nails on Capitol Hill. Then, she took advantage of warmer weather at a Billy Joel concert at Nationals Park in July. Some R&R and then the Piano Man – well played!

8) Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., seemed doomed from the earliest stages of her midterm campaign, with polls consistently showing her trailing her Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy. But in the final week before the Dec. 6 runoff, Landrieu had a last dash for dough. Hillary Clinton headlined a high-dollar cocktail reception in Manhattan, and then Stevie Wonder crooned for campaign cash in New Orleans.

7) Three Republican gents danced for dollars during Justin Timberlake’s concert in D.C. New York Rep. Michael Grimm, North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson and Georgia Rep. Tom Price donned a “Suit & Tie” for the February fundraiser. (Bonus: Party Time heard that Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was getting her groove on at the concert, too.)

6) As the head of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had plenty of fundraising responsibilities this year. But he seemed to really dig celebrating birthdays, throwing his own b-day bash in September with 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A month later, he brought out the balloons and candles for another celebration, this one in Iowa for Gov. Terry Branstad.

5) And, speaking of celebrating a personal milestone with a campaign event, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and her husband marked their 30-year wedding anniversary in July with a fundraiser in Miami. Because nothing says “I love you” like a $1,000 political donation.

4) Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., cashed in on the “Game of Thrones” craze when his campaign raffled off a spot at a VIP reception with series creator George R. R. Martin at his personal theater in Santa Fe.

3) Like many other political watchers, Party Time kept up with the midterms madness with plenty of coffee and donuts. But we noticed an interesting trend in the two or three days prior to Election Day: some serious carbo-loading! Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro had his annual pasta and politics dinner on Nov. 2, and Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., threw a pasta party of his own the next afternoon.

2) Cheap eats for big bucks! In a nod to his Chicago-area district, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., threw a hot dog reception in February, where the street food standby went for $1,000 to $2,500. And Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., recently had his yearly pancake breakfast, where a short stack went for $1,000 to $5,000.

1) Former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., hasn’t held elected office in two years, but that hasn’t kept him off the party circuit. His leadership PAC, the Allen West Guardian Fund, is still raising and spending big bucks, according to Sunlight’s Real-Time Campaign Finance tracker. In March, West threw a weekend-long event billed as a black tie boot camp. The invite is, by far, one of Party Time’s all-time favorites.

And with that, party people, we wish you a happy holiday filled with as many parties as possible! See you in 2015!

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 12.08.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Sen. Rand Paul headlines Mississippi fundraiser, more debt retirement parties and some expensive pancakes

With the holidays fast approaching and the midterms officially wrapped up after Saturday’s runoff in Louisiana, politicians seem to have their eyes squarely on their impending winter break. But before they hit the road for home, members of Congress will cram in some last minute partying this week.

And so, faithful party people, this will be the final regular post of the year for Party Time. We’ll be back after the holidays, ready as ever for all of the zany and creative ways politicians plot to bring in the campaign cash. We are confident the 114th session will be just as entertaining as its predecessors. You can do it, newbies!

In the meantime, if you know of a fundraiser in the works, you know what to do! Is it holiday themed? Does it celebrate the beginning of the new term by asking for campaign cash? Party Time wants whatever you’ve got! Have we missed any past parties? Got any late-breaking candidates for our year-end roundup (watch this space!) of faves? Upload invites on our handy (and confidential) page right here, or email us.

But before we pour some eggnog and slice up the Yule log, let’s dig into this week’s political parties.

Partying with Paul
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been interested in, if acting coy about, a run for the White House for just about forever at this point. “I’m not going to deny that I’m interested,” Paul said of the presidency way back in November 2012. Since then, Party Time has kept an eye on his strategic partying schedule, which always seems to somehow involve a trip to early voting states like Iowa or New Hampshire.

He’s looking beyond the intra-party fights of a GOP primary, too, by taking on potential general election opponents. On the night of Republicans’ across-the-board midterm victories, Paul immediately tied defeated Democrats to one Hillary Clinton, a likely fellow contender in 2016. And, to maintain that all-important cool kid street cred, he did it on Facebook. With a hashtag, no less!

Since the midterms, Paul has stayed on message, name-checking Clinton last week by referring to the ongoing instability in Libya as part of “Hillary’s war.” But he also announced he’d run for reelection in 2016, which complicates his path to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Kentucky law prevents candidates from running for two federal positions simultaneously, so running for his Senate seat would keep him off a presidential ballot – unless some fancy legal footwork allows for a still-TBD workaround.

Paul keeps up the busy bee business this week, with a trip down to Jackson on Monday for a fundraiser for the Mississippi Republican Party. It’s a state Paul carefully avoided earlier this year when a GOP family feud pitted fellow tea party insurgent Chris McDaniel against fellow Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. (Cochran eventually prevailed) Tickets to the victory lunch start at $250, but $1,000 will get you a spot at a pre-lunch reception with Paul and Gov. Phil Bryant, R-Miss.

Republicans bid adieu to campaign debt
Two new-to-the-House politicians are looking to cash in on the warm and fuzzy feelings of the holidays plus the sweet, sweet taste of victory. That’s right, folks: We’ve got another batch of wintertime debt retirement parties!

On Tuesday, Rep.-elect John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, throws a debt retirement reception at the Capitol Hill Club, where individuals are asked to chip in $500 or $1,000, and PACs are asked to fork over $1,000 or $2,500. Fellow Texan Reps. Pete Sessions and Bill Flores will be on hand to help gin up support.

From the looks of things, Ratcliffe needs all the help he can get. Ratcliffe, who beat longtime Rep. Ralph Hall in the primary in May and was unopposed in November’s general election, still has $664,300 in campaign debt, according to Sunlight’s Real-Time tracker. And a good chunk of that is money he owes himself. The attorney and former mayor of Heath, Texas, loaned his campaign a total of $685,300 in three different installments from October 2013 to June 2014, according to Real-Time.

With her campaign account just $29,529 in the red, according to Real-Time, Rep.-elect Barbara Comstock has a more manageable bottom line. But the Virginia Republican is still asking supporters for some help during a debt retirement breakfast Wednesday morning, also at the Capitol Hill Club. Because the best part of waking up is not, in fact, Folgers in your cup – it’s paying off someone else’s debt.

Ka$h for Kaine
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., isn’t up for reelection until 2018, but that’s not stopping him from throwing a high-dollar fundraiser at a Capitol Hill townhouse on Monday evening. The cocktail reception asks donors for at least $500 and as much as $5,200 to host.

It’s a more staid gathering than usual for the first-term senator. A look into Party Time’s records show that Kaine usually keeps his fundraisers fairly interesting, whether it’s a Bon Jovi concert benefiting his leadership PAC, Common Ground PAC, or his “Smoked n’ Oaked” event that’s billed as “a celebration of Virginia’s best barbecue, bourbon and beer.” We’ve got our fingers crossed that at least the latter two make an appearance during Monday’s gathering.


Pricey pancakes!
If Party Times knows anything about Sen. Patrick Leahy, it’s that this guy knows how to par-tay. The Vermont Democrat has been winning us over since we got this project started in 2008 with partying traditions that include all of our favorite things: carbo-loading Italian dinners, pancake breakfasts and ice cream socials that feature Grateful Dead cover bands, Ben & Jerry’s and Magic Hat beer. Yes, please!

On Wednesday, Leahy keeps his annual breakfast ritual going with a morning fundraiser at Capitol Hill restaurant Art & Soul. But this is no regular short stack, folks: A plate of these pricey pancakes slathered with Vermont maple syrup goes for anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

And that just about wraps up your week in political parties! What have we missed and what have you heard about? Email us the goods, or upload whatever you’ve got right here. See you in the New Year, party people!

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 10.20.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama hit up ATM states; Rand Paul, Chris Christie party in Iowa; Rick Scott beats the FanGate heat with a Florida fundraiser

Hey, party people, hey! The whirlwind of pre-midterm political fundraising continues this week, with another packed social calendar that takes us from Illinois to Iowa, from California to the Carolinas. It’s crunch time, folks, so ready those checkbooks!

While most politicos are hitting the road for ATM states (New York, California) or key presidential primary pockets (South Carolina, Iowa), we have to salute one guy heading to the beach – on a Wednesday, no less. Sen. Bob Menendez is throwing a two-day retreat for his leadership PAC at the Ritz-Carlton in Puerto Rico, with tickets going for $5,000 a pop. The New Jersey Democrat – who faced an ethics complaint in 2012 for not disclosing flights to the Dominican Republic gifted by a campaign donor – isn’t up for reelection until 2018.

Whether they are catching some sunshine or chatting at a reception, this week’s schedule runs the gauntlet of fundraising ploys. But what have we missed, faithful partiers? If you know of something in the works, you know what to do! Use our confidential upload page right here, or email us invites or news clippings.

Buckle up, friends! Here is your busy week in political parties.

Hillary does California
Becoming a grandmother shook up Hillary Clinton’s travel plans, but only a little bit. In the days immediately following the arrival of tiny tot Charlotte, Clinton canceled a fundraiser for influential New Hampshire state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro and dispatched husband Bill to sub for her at a party for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown.

But the potential grandmother-in-chief was back at work sooner rather than later, packing her bags for fundraiser appearances in Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas, Denver and Louisville. This week, she has two high-profile stops in deep blue California, where she will raise money for Democratic House and Senate candidates.

On Monday, Clinton heads to downtown San Francisco for an event for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Called the “Ultimate Women’s Power Luncheon,” it (a) pairs Clinton with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and (b) makes us want to talk in that deep voice from movie trailers. It’s $500 for one seat at the Fairmont Hotel lunch, but a VIP reception and photo will cost you $32,400.

Later that day, Clinton is the special guest at a reception and dinner at see-and-be-seen L.A. restaurant Tavern. The party’s host list includes Hollywood heavy hitters Alan and Cindy Horn, Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jolene and Michael Rapino, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, and, according to the Hollywood Reporter, is seen as a “coming out of sorts” for a possible Clinton White House run in 2016. The pricey get-together – $32,400 per person – benefits a joint fundraising committee with a long list of signers-on, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a handful of state Democratic parties and the campaign committees of Senate candidates in tight races (as in, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, Kentucky candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, Georgia candidate Michelle Nunn, West Virginia candidate Natalie Tennant, etc., etc.). Whew!

Side note: The potential grandfather-in-chief is getting in on the action this week, too. Former President Bill Clinton will headline a party on Tuesday for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and an evening reception on Thursday for New Jersey’s Bonnie Watson Coleman, who has her eye on her state’s open 12th District House seat. These are the latest Party Time stops for Bubba, who has been a highly sought-after surrogate for Democratic candidates this cycle.

Obama heads home
President Barack Obama starts out his week in his adopted home state of Illinois to provide a boost for Gov. Pat Quinn and the Democratic National Committee. On Sunday, Obama rallied the troops at a get-out-the-vote event for Quinn. (Earlier this month, Obama attended a $50,000-per-person house party for the Illinois Democrat; first lady Michelle Obama lent her support, too, during $10,000-per-plate event followed by a public rally.)

Come Monday, the partier-in-chief is the special guest at a DNC event at the Chicago home of philanthropist Barbara Goodman Manilow. This isn’t Manilow’s first rodeo, though: Her Lincoln Park home was the site of an April 2013 party for Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign.

Though Obama canceled not just onebut two events last week for Ebola-related meetings at the White House, he seems to be getting back on the trail this week. His schedule also has him attending a D.C. event on Thursday for the Democratic National Committee. If you have the invite, email us the deets!

Republicans hunker down in Iowa
Sure, the next presidential race is still two years off. But for the Republican Party, which lacks a shoo-in nominee, that just means 24 more months of pushing and shoving among the GOP’s deep roster of White House wannabes. Elbows out, folks!

That jostling becomes even more apparent when looking at politicians’ travel into Iowa, site of the first caucuses of the presidential primary season. Although Iowans do party on their own (please see: Tuesday’s Ronald Reagan Dinner for the state’s Republican Party, which features Gov. Terry Branstad and Senate candidate Joni Ernst), more times than not, fundraisers include an out-of-stater with an eye on 2016 who is looking to ingratiate himself to local party officials and donors.

On Wednesday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is slated to do just that at a family BBQ for Iowa state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann. Ernst will also attend the $25-per-plate party.

According to Party Time’s records, this is Paul’s seventh trip in 2014 to the Hawkeye State. No word on what Paul – recently dubbed “The Most Interesting Man in Politics” by Time – is planning to say at the BBQ, but we anticipate something interesting.

On Saturday, Gov. Chris Christie shuffles into Iowa for a birthday party for Branstad. But don’t let the invite’s quaint clip art fool you: This is one pricey b-day bash. Although $65 gets you into the festivities, you’ll have to shell out upwards of $25,000 for birthday cake and a prime seat. The New Jersey Republican, head of the Republican Governors Association and a likely presidential candidate, has kept a very busy party schedule this year, glad-handing donors in just about every key primary and/or swing state.

Florida heats up
With all of the compounding outside demands, running for office isn’t easy. It’s a pressure cooker of sorts, and certainly not for people who can’t keep their cool. So, when Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., initially refused to join his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, onstage for their debate because the latter had a fan under his podium, you can imagine that the Republican caught some heat for it.

Indeed, FanGate threatened to overshadow the content of the debate itself, and, silly as it may seem, it may follow Scott around in the final crucial weeks before the election. After all, Jon Stewart weighed in on the steamy situation and the Atlantic’s Molly Ball wrote a profile on the portable electronic. Like at last week’s debate, the fan isn’t going anywhere, and Scott will have to sweat it out until the controversy cools off.

You know what might help? A party, of course! Fellow Floridians Sen. Marco Rubio, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and former Gov. Jeb Bush will gather on Friday at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables to toast Scott and raise some serious cash for his campaign. After all of the FanGate blowback, it’ll be a breath of fresh air to spend time with supporters.

(Party Time does not apologize for the magnitude of fan-related language in the above graphs. We stand by our word choices.)

And with that, we’ve got a wrap on the week in political parties! What have we missed, and what have you heard of? Upload the goods right here, or shoot us an email.

Photo courtesy Flickr

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 10.06.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Barack Obama raises goop-loads of money with Gwyneth Paltrow; Joe Biden, Carole King make donors sing; Mitt Romney fundraises with Republican heavyweights; plus, a “Game of Thrones” party


Hello, party people! This week’s social calendar is a little less packed than recent weeks, but most of the parties on the books boast big names and carry a high price tag. Over here at Party Time, we like to think of that as strategic partying: If you can charge way more money at a handful of events with well-known faces, then you get to take off an afternoon or two. Treat yourself.

The fundraiser schedule this week leans to the left, but we know Republicans love a good party as much as their Democratic counterparts. Have you heard about a GOP party in the works? If you know of a fundraiser, you know what to do! Upload all of those official invites right here, or email us whatever you’ve got.

And now, for your weekly dose of political partying!

Partier-in-chief parties on and on and on
President Barack Obama’s fundraising schedule has felt a little helter skelter lately, with events cropping up seemingly on the fly (please see last week’s Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee event that we – and the White House press pool – found out about as it was happening). We know the president’s team plans everything to a T, so we are always surprised when there’s absolutely no pre-party buzz around a presidential pop-in.

But that’s about to change this week, as the fundraiser-in-chief is slated to attend five very buzzy, on-the-books parties. The most-talked-about shindig among them has to be Thursday’s reception and dinner at Gwyneth Paltrow’s Los Angeles home. Yes, the creator of Goop (it’s where she shares “all of life’s positives,” according to the lifestyle site’s About page) and the user of phrases like “conscious uncoupling” is hosting a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, with tickets ranging from $1,000 to $32,400. It’s the second time the mega movie star has lent her name to a fundraiser invite with the prez: In 2012, she threw a dinner for Obama’s reelection campaign in London with buddies Anna Wintour and Tom Ford.

On Friday, Obama heads up the California coast for another DNC fundraiser, this one at San Francisco City Hall. PT records show that back-to-back events in moneyed, deep-blue pockets of the Left Coast is an often-repeated partying plan, but one we haven’t seen since July, when Obama did a Seattle to S.F. to L.A. cash grab.

But Obama doesn’t leave all of the partying for the end of the week. He actually starts off the fundraising fun on Tuesday with a three-in-one-day swing that takes him from New York to Connecticut.

An afternoon reception for the DNC at Chef Floyd Cardoz’s new restaurant, White Street in Tribeca, gets together some big names in Big Apple politics. Anne Hess, Craig Kaplan and Sarah and Victor Kovner, who all give loads of cash#mce_temp_url# to local and national Dems, will party with Broadway producer Margo Lion and the president. And another afternoon event, this one billed as a reception and discussion with President Barack Obama, will go down at the Manhattan home of power couple Bill White and Bryan Eure. Cash raised at the $25,000-per-person fundraiser will go straight to the DNC.

In the evening, Obama is off to Connecticut for a fundraiser at the Greenwich home of Richard and Ellen Schapps Richman. Tickets to the party for the DSCC start at $10,000, which is almost a bargain, considering the couple hosted Obama at a $30,000-per-plate fundraiser in 2010.

Whew! That’s a full week of presidential partying, if you ask us.

Joe hits the road for the ladies
The second in command gets in on the fundraising action this week with two on-the-road parties tailored for female House and Senate candidates. Get ready to gas up Air Force Two!

Vice President Joe Biden hits the money trail on Monday with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at a cocktail reception for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Hollywood muckety-mucks – Fox executive Jim Gianopulos, former Warner Bros. chairman Barry Meyer, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and filmmaker James L. Brooks – play host at the “When Women Succeed America Succeeds” themed event, which also features a performance by Carole King. Dust off that vinyl copy of “Tapestry” and get ready to sing along to “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” (And if anyone gets a pic of Biden crooning, please-oh-please send it to your friends at Party Time.)

On Thursday, Biden hits up donors at a Seattle party for a joint fundraising committee Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell set up for female senators and candidates in tight races this year. Cash collected for Cantwell for Women in the Senate 2014 goes to Cantwell (not up for reelection until 2018, FYI), Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn and West Virginia Senate candidate Natalie Tennant. Tickets cap out at $5,000.

Romney rakes it in
Mitt Romney continues to bask in his popularity, post presidential run number two. As a highly coveted figure on the campaign trail, Romney has been bouncing around the country this year, stumping for candidates in West Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Colorado and Virginia. And his fundraising schedule has been crammed, too, with additional stops in New Jersey, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisiana.

As Romney’s calendar filled up, the questions started piling on. Is he staging a comeback, a la “the third time’s the charm”?

The former Massachusetts governor started out the year as a solid “no,” but at the end of last month, he delivered a coy “We’ll see what happens” to a reporter’s question about another run in 2016. Hmmmm.

While we can’t be sure about Romney’s future plans, we do know that he can’t seem to get enough of the partying scene. On Monday evening, he throws a New York City bash for the Republican National Committee with other GOPers just about always on the list of presidential potentials: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Big-time Romney supporter (and New York Jets owner) Woody Johnson and his wife, Suzanne, will host the party at their house, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will also attend.

That’s a lot of big-name Republicans at one get-together, so you know you’ll be writing a hefty check for some face-time. It’s a whopping $32,400 per person to attend.

On Wednesday, Romney heads to Utah to headline a private fundraiser for Mia Love, who is running for her state’s 4th District U.S. House seat. Love narrowly lost in 2012 to Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, who is retiring this year. This go-around, Love faces Democrat Doug Owens. This may be her year as a recent poll has her up by 12 points and Sunlight’s Real-Time tool shows her winning the cash contest, too.

“Game of Thrones,” meet Party Time
Politicians glom onto just about anything of-the-moment to help them raise money for their campaigns. Nats game, anyone? Or perhaps a Beyoncé concert?

This week, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., takes advantage of the “Game of Thrones” craze with a fundraiser ploy around the HBO fantasy hit. The Udall camp is raffling off a chance to meet series writer George R. R. Martin during a VIP reception at the novelist’s personal theater. Loop us in if you hear of any spoilers!

And that’s a wrap, party people! Let us know if you hear of anything good going on out there!

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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Uncategorized • POSTED - 09.22.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Who has Sen. Pat Roberts, former POTUS Bill Clinton, Sen. Mark Udall, Speaker John Boehner, 20K invites and wants more?? Read on!

Hello, party timers! It’s the last full week of September, and politicians prepping for their midterms with – you guessed it! – fundraisers galore.

But any faithful readers of this blog know it’s never just about the election right in front of us. Sure, Republican Scott Brown (former Massachusetts senator, current New Hampshire Senate candidate) is throwing a reception on Thursday in Manhattan for his November race. But two other prominent GOPers with their eyes on the White House are lending some strategic support this week at parties in the swing state of Virginia.

On Tuesday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will indulge in some sweet fundraising at a dessert reception for Barbara Comstock, who is running in the closely watched race for Virginia’s 10th District House seat. The next day, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., continues his frenzied fundraising schedule with a stop in Falls Church for a dinner benefiting the Republican Party of Virginia. If you miss either of those get-togethers, not to worry: Rubio and Paul – along with a batch of other presidential potentials – will gather for a Family Research Council confab in D.C. on Friday.

There’s a lot going on this week, but what have we missed? If you’ve got the goods, you know what to do! Upload official invites right here, or email us whatever you’ve got. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t take this opportunity to mention that the Party Time database hit 20,000 invites at the end of last week! So, a big thank you to PT’s friends who made that possible. Huzzah!

Party for Pat
It’s been a tough few months for Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. First, he had to hustle during a closer-than-anticipated Republican primary, ultimately elbowing past tea party challenger Milton Wolf by seven points. Then, the Democrat on the general election ballot opted to bow out, blowing open the race and giving independent candidate Greg Orman a real shot. Just last week, a poll showed that, in a head-to-head matchup, Orman leads the 78-year-old Roberts by 10 points.

Kansas may be deep red, but Rothenberg Political Report just called out Roberts as the most vulnerable Republican senator in the country. The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent two of its scrappiest operatives to the Sunflower State, and bigwigs in the party are chipping in, too, throwing a fundraiser for Roberts in D.C. on Tuesday. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., are all slated to headline the event.

We’ve heard mumblings of other parties in the works for Roberts, who is running for his fourth Senate term, but could use some details. If you know what’s going on, loop us in!

Clinton in Colorado
Former President Bill Clinton hasn’t run for office since the mid ’90s, but you’d never know it based on his travel schedule the last few years. In 2012, he bounced all over the country, stumping for President Obama’s reelection campaign, and since then, he’s lent his support to a fistful of candidates at fundraiser appearances.

Initially, Clinton headlined events for fellow Arkansans, or political buddies like Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, or family friends like Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. But Clinton has become the go-to fundraiser for many other struggling Democrats. He has helped out with fundraisers in New Hampshire for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and in Louisiana for Sen. Mary Landrieu.

Come Saturday, Clinton will try to work some of his magic on Colorado voters. He touches down in Denver for a luncheon with Sen. Mark Udall, who is in a neck-and-neck race with Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner. It’s one of the more marquee Senate contests in the country. According to Sunlight’s Real-Time tool, outside groups, including Crossroads GPS and NextGen Climate Action, have spent a combined $17.4 million on the seat so far.

Boehner hits the road
When Party Time read about House Speaker John Boehner’s August recess road trip of campaigning and fundraising, we couldn’t help but wonder if his team made a playlist for the 14-state tour. We imagine a pre-stop ritual similar to that of Dwight Schrute.

Aides better dust off the mixed tape this week, because the Ohio congressman is at it again with three on-the-road fundraisers. On Tuesday, Boehner heads to Glens Falls, N.Y., for a fundraiser for Elise Stefanik, who is running for the Empire State’s 21st District House seat and, to her credit, has had no shortage of parties with bold-named attendees.

Then, Boehner is off to downtown Manchester on Wednesday for a reception for former Rep. Frank Guinta, who is facing off – for the third time – against Rep. Carol Shea-Porter for the 1st District House seat in New Hampshire. Boehner keeps going north on Thursday for a fundraising stop in Maine for Bruce Poliquin. Poliquin, a former state treasurer, is running against Emily Cain for the 2nd District House seat.

O’Malley money
Gov. Martin O’Malley, D-Md., makes no secret of thinking about a White House bid. Last month, he added fuel to the fire when he dispatched campaign staff into Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, all important presidential primary states. And his busy partying schedule is yet another indicator of his 2016 hopes and dreams.

This weekend, O’Malley has makes three tactical partying stops. First up: New Hampshire, where O’Malley has visited four times in 10 months. He headlines a party on Friday for State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark and then does a dinner for the Portsmouth City Democrats. On Sunday, O’Malley gets some Hollywood help at a fundraiser in California for his (cleverly named) PAC, O’Say Can You See. Film producer Moctesuma Esparza and Sony exec Eric Paquette will be on hand to gin up support among guests paying $1,000 per person to party.

And that’s a wrap! What are we missing, and what have you heard about? Send us whatever you’ve got.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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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.