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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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Congressional Getaways Partytime • POSTED - 01.30.12 BY La Toya Gratten

This Week’s Fundraisers: Super Bowl Getaway, Groundhog Day, Coffee and Bagels and more

Super Bowl Party in Indianapolis – Rep. John Conyers, Jr. D-Mich., and America Forward PAC is scheduled to head to Super Bowl XLVI to watch the New York Giants go against the New England Patriots. The $5,000 super fan package includes one Super bowl ticket and two tickets to attend a luncheon.

Last year, the Moving America Forward PAC hosted a Super Bowl XLIV game and & Luncheon in Miami.

Huskies vs. Hoyas – On Wednesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is scheduled to be at a fundraiser at the Verizon Center to watch the UConn Huskies take on the Georgetown Hoyas.  To attend the fundraiser and game, the suggested contribution is $1,500. According to the Ticketmaster website, there are still tickets available for $41.30, including fee.

Birthday Celebration – Rep. Larry Kissell, D-N.C., is scheduled to have a birthday reception on Tuesday, with Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C.  The suggested contribution to attend the birthday celebration starts at $5,000 to host and $500 for individual tickets.

Money Makin’ Thursday – According to Party Time records, Thursday will be busy day for both sides of the aisle. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., is scheduled to have a reception with special guest Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis. The Tuesday Group PAC is also scheduled to have a reception in the evening. After checking to see if the groundhog will see its shadow, Rep. Mark Critz, D-Pa. is scheduled to have a Groundhog Day breakfast.  The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will be hosting the Good Life Council Lunch with Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

Coffee and Bagels – The RAD-PAC, associated with the American College of Radiology, is scheduled to host a Coffee and Bagels Meet and Greet with Republican Reps. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., and Tom Price,R-Ga., M.D.

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PartyTimeData Partytime special interests • POSTED - 01.27.12 BY La Toya Gratten

SOPA Fundraisers

Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Chris Dodd set off a firestorm of criticism last week when he suggested that Hollywood would withhold campaign money from President Obama and lawmakers who don’t toe the Hollywood line on online piracy.

Losing support of the entertainment industry would not be insignificant for the president: In 2011, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg gave $2 million to Priorities USA, the super PAC backing Obama. Another major bankroller is Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of Miramax Films, who along with Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour last August co-hosted a $71,600-a-couple fundraiser for Obama at his New York home.

But so far at least, Party Time hasn’t detected any slowdown in the entertainment industry’s enthusiasm for the president, despite the White House’s decision to put the brakes on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Just a few days before the White House raised concerns about the legislation, which is being enthusiastically backed by the entertainment industry, Obama was raising funds at  the New York City  home of director Spike Lee.

In addition, Party Time records show a Feb. 7 Runway to Win fundraiser scheduled for the Obama Victory Fund 2012. Hosts for the event include: Wintour, actress Scarlet Johansson,  hip-hop moguls Sean Combs and Russell Simmons, singer Beyonce, and fashion designers Diane Von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs and Vera Wang. Party Time records also show a Jan. 9 reception fundraiser in DC featuring featuring singer-songwriter Sarah Bareilles. Both the fashion and music industries support SOPA.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the SOPA debate has set off a $100 million lobbying war. Both the entertainment companies who back SOPA and the tech giants who oppose it have lined up blue-chip lobbyists who are regulars on the Party Time circuit.

Former Rep. Victor Fazio, D-Calif., now a lobbyist at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, represents AT& T, a proponent of SOPA. He was one of the hosts at a dinner fundraiser benefiting Democrats Win Seats, the leadership PAC of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a SOPA supporter and the Democratic Party’s national chair. Reps. Karen Bass, D-Calif and Ted Deutch D-Fla., both SOPA supporters, and Reps. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Bruce Braley, SOPA opponents, were listed among those scheduled to attend. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Senate Judiciary Committee member and one of the four co-sponsors of PIPA, has had several  fundraisers featuring lobbyists from tApple (has not formally stated a position on SOPA), the Motion Picture Association of America, Time Warner and Time Warner Cable.

And as we’ve previously told you in this space, companies backing SOPA have held several fundraisers benefitting Reps. Howard Berman, Adam Schiff, Joe Baca and Mary Bono Mack of California .

Not to be outdone, the tech industry, which sent a powerful message Jan. 18 about its distaste for SOPA on popular websites such as  Google, Wikipedia and Craigslist, has been well represented on the Party Time circuit.

Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., a member of the Judiciary Committee is one of the 27 co-sponsors of SOPA; on the day of the online protest, he issued a press release withdrawing his support, saying his constituents have “made clear” their opposition to legislation.   Alex Vogel of Mehlman, Vogel and Castagnetti, who once worked for then-Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist, was one of the four hosts for Griffin’s reception in early December of last year. Vogel clients include CC Media Holdings, eBay Inc., Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and Yahoo! Inc.  Yahoo! and eBay are opponents of SOPA. Also hosting the fundraiser were other lobbyists representing a range of communications interests, including some on both sides of the SOPA debate:  Marc Lampkin, who represents AT&T, Microsoft Corporation, Sony Corporation and Visa Inc. Kathryn Lehman, who represents Google Inc. and Verizon Communications, and Susan Hirschmann, who represents Comcast Corporation, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Recording Industry Association of America; US Chamber of Commerce and Visa Inc.

Sen. John Cornyn R-Texas, the chairman National Republican Senatorial Committee and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee member, is another former backer of anti-piracy legislation who shifted his position.  Cornyn’s Alamo PAC had two fundraisers featuring a lobbyist from Clear Channel, Verizon Communications and AT&T, all supporters of SOPA. But after the online protest, the Texan took to  Facebook to share misgivings about the legislation those companies are backing.“Better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time,” Cornyn wrote.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., also once supported the anti-piracy bill but now opposes it. According to Party Time records, he had a fundraiser hosted by lobbyists Doyle Barlett and Becky Relic. Barlett represents clients such as Comcast Corporation, eBay, and the US Chamber of Commerce. Relic represents eBay. Another supporter-turned-opponent, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., had a fundraiser in which three of the hosts are lobbyists who represent Comcast, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Time Warner Cable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There are a few lawmakers who have not formally expressed a stand on SOPA. One example is House Oversight Committee member Rep. Ed Towns, D-N.Y. At his 25th Annual Taste of New York fundraising event,  Towns had lobbyists representing both sides of the SOPA debate as hosts. Paul Braitwaite, a lobbyist for the Podesta Group represents Google, Time Warner Cable and the National Association of Broadcasters is listed as one of the hosts. The list of hosts for Towns event also included Roger Mott with Verizon Communications, Lyndon Boozer of AT&T, Matt Gelman of Microsoft and Jesse McCollum, a lobbyist with the Eris Group representing the Comcast Corporation.

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Partytime • POSTED - 09.22.11 BY Keenan Steiner

American Crossroads official co-hosts campaign event for House Republican

An official of American Crossroads, the top-spending Super PAC in the 2010 election cycle, co-hosted a fundraiser for a lawmaker’s campaign last week, further blurring the line between candidate committees, which can raise limited contributions from individuals and political action committees, and Super PACs, which can raise unlimited funds from corporations, labor unions and individuals.

The Federal Election Commission ruled in June that candidates for federal office can raise funds for Super PACs—or independent expenditure-only committees—as long as they do not solicit contributions higher than those their own campaigns can accept. Super PAC officials are free to ask those donors for far more money.

Jim Dyke, secretary of American Crossroads, co-hosted a fundraiser for freshman congressman Tim Griffin, R-Ark. The other hosts were former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillispie and his wife. Gillespie and Karl Rove, the longtime senior adviser in the George W. Bush administration, encouraged the formation of American Crossroads and served as fundraisers for the group.

The invitation made no reference to American Crossroads. While Super PACs and candidates can coordinate their fundraising, they are still barred from coordinating spending, whether it be on television or radio ads, get out the vote efforts, or other campaign activities.

The fundraising reception was at a Capitol Hill Mexican restaurant on Sept. 14; the invite asked donors for up to $2,000 from PACs and $1,000 from individuals. Gillespie has hosted congressional fundraisers in the past, but this appears to be the first such event hosted by Dyke in Party Time’s records, which date back to mid-2008 but do not include all of D.C.’s fundraisers.

“Hosting the fundraiser could raise questions about possible coordination,” campaign finance lawyer Brett Kappel, of Arent Fox, wrote in an email, “but the FEC has never pursued a case based solely on hosting a fundraiser.”

Gillespie, Dyke and Griffin all said there was no coordination. In an email, Gillespie wrote,

“I’m proud to contribute to Tim Griffin’s re-election campaign, and have urged others to do so as well, but I’m not privy to his campaign’s strategy or decisions.  Likewise, I’m proud to support the efforts of American Crossroads and believe it’s an important counterweight to liberal groups, but I’m not an officer there, not a paid employee nor consultant and have no control over its expenditures.”

Dyke, who is from Arkansas, wrote, “As a board member [of American Crossroads] I am committed to upholding the legal separation between campaign and third party coordination and made certain that a contribution to Tim’s campaign and encouraging others to do so was in no way a violation of that separation.”

Asked if the event raised questions about coordination, Griffin wrote in a statement, “No. Jim Dyke has been a close friend for almost a decade, was a member of my wedding party and grew up in my district.”

There are professional ties among the three as well. When Gillespie led the Republican National Committee in 2004, Dyke was the communications director, and Griffin worked on opposition research. After the election, Griffin was tapped as a White House assistant to Rove.

He was later picked by the Bush Administration to replace Bud Cummins, one of the U.S. attorneys that was controversially dismissed in 2006. Griffin was appointed as the interim U.S. Attorney for Arkansas’ Eastern district in late 2006 but withdrew his candidacy months later amid the scandal.

A Department of Justice investigation later concluded that Cummins was fired because the White House wanted to give Griffin the position. The report quotes an email from DOJ official Kyle Sampson saying that getting Griffin appointed was important to Rove and Harriet Myers, the former White House counsel.

Neither American Crossroads nor Crossroads GPS spent money on Griffin’s race in 2010, according to FEC records. Dyke and Gillespie both head their own consulting practices and their respective companies share a K Street address. Dyke’s firm, JDA Frontline, is a strategic communications consulting firm that also has an office in South Carolina. Gillespie runs Ed Gillespie Strategies out of Virginia.

American Crossroads and its sister nonprofit Crossroads GPS plan to raise $240 million for the 2012 election.

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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.