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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 - 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!

Uncategorized • POSTED - 03.17.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Roundup: President Obama fundraises in Florida, Sen. Ted Cruz goes to Iowa, and Allen West’s Black Tie Boot Camp in Palm Beach

Party people, we’ve got another packed schedule of fundraisers upon us. Looks like Congress is taking advantage of its week away from Washington to shake the money tree in warmer locales: Texas, Arizona, California and Florida are all on the calendar. These politicians sure do know how to make the best of their time off the clock.

The one exception to the outside-of-the-District trend is Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who is throwing a St. Patrick’s Day Fete in Fairfax on Monday. According to Party Time’s data, this is the second themed St. Paddy’s Day shindig on the books this year. But there must be more happening out there – after all, no self-respecting politician would pass up the opportunity to use a cute leprechaun with a pot of gold as a means to inspire campaign contributions! If you’ve heard of anything good, you know what to do: Send those invites and newspaper clippings here.

Now, it’s time to hit the road for this week in parties!

President Obama: Florida fundraising (and golfing?)

The Partier-in-Chief will join Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., DCCC head Steve Israel and Florida’s Democratic congressional delegation for a fundraiser in Miami on Thursday evening.

The cocktail reception and dinner will take place at the home of former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, who has also been known to join President Obama on the golf course. A few weeks ago, while on a family vacation in Key Largo, Obama hit the links with Mourning, sportscaster Ahmad Rashad and Cyrus Walker, Valerie Jarrett’s cousin. We can’t imagine that the president won’t take advantage of the sunshine and Florida’s omnipresent golf courses on this trip, either.

But wait, this just in: Late Friday night, Party Time learned that President Obama will attend a second fundraiser in Miami on Thursday for the DNC. He’s also the headliner for a DNC funder on Tuesday in D.C., but this is all we know about either event. If you’ve got details, please share! Email us, or upload an official invite here.

Sen. Ted Cruz in Iowa … again

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, may enjoy reading about Dr. Seuss’s take on breakfast foods, but on Tuesday, the freshman senator will have a plate full of sweets and goodies at a fundraiser in Mason City, Iowa. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Cruz are both slated to attend a Dessert Reception for the Cerro Gordo County Republicans in yet another indicator that the Texan is laying the groundwork for a run at the GOP presidential nomination. The next presidential election may be 32 months away, but it’s never too soon to buddy up with voters in Iowa, perennial site of the first-in-the-country caucuses.

Since the Iowa caucuses provide an important initial go-around for candidates vying to be president, getting in good with the state’s party leadership is always a wise first step. Cruz learned that one early, with our PT records showing he first hit up the Hawkeye State six months after being sworn in. Then it was last October’s Ronald Reagan Commemorative Dinner in Des Moines, followed by that memorable weekend Pheasant Hunt with Rep. King.

Need another sign Cruz has 2016 on the brain? The next fundraiser PT has on his schedule is the Freedom Summit in New Hampshire, the state with the first presidential primary.

Ted Cruz, you are one savvy partier.

McConnell in sunny SoCal

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., plans to party on Wednesday afternoon with Christian conservative heavyweights in Southern California. The fundraiser, first reported by the Washington Examiner, will be hosted by California insurance executive John Nelson and Salem Communications CEO Edward Atsinger.

Atsinger’s Salem is a mega communications firm that specializes in evangelical Christian and conservative websites, like and, and radio shows hosted by the likes of Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt. In January, the Salem family got bigger when it gobbled up Eagle Publishing, which produced and

That move consolidated a significant chunk of right-leaning media outlets and personalities under one organizational umbrella, making a fundraiser with the organization’s head an efficient tip o’ the hat to voters in Kentucky wary of McConnell’s conservative bona fides. (And, might we add, Republican funders on the fence about doling out some dough to the Senate’s minority leader.)

Although polls have McConnell way ahead of his from-the-right primary challenger, Matt Bevin, the longtime senator is still neck-and-neck with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. So, bring on the bucks! Wednesday’s fundraiser, headlined by Prager and Hewitt, costs $15,200 per person or $30,400 per couple.

Cash for Crist

Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist continues to beef up his new left-leaning bona fides. On Wednesday evening, he will hobnob with the gay elite of South Florida at a fundraiser at the home of Dean Trantalis, the first openly gay member of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. According to the invitation, other hosts include Michael Albetta, a leader in the state’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Caucus, and Norman Kent, the publisher of South Florida Gay News.

The fundraiser provides another opportunity for Crist to make nice with Florida’s LGBT community. While he was Florida’s governor from 2006-2010 – and had an “R” after his name – Crist supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. But two years after moving out of the governor’s mansion, Crist changed his party affiliation and his position on marriage equality, even going so far as to apologize for supporting the amendment.

This is Crist’s second fundraising event Florida’s LGBT heavy-hitters. In January, Crist had a reception at Brad Grosberg and Phil Kean’s Winter Park home, where tickets started at $250 and went up to $10,000.

Weekend getaways + funders

A day away from D.C. is great, but why not turn that trip into a weekend getaway if you possibly can? Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., heeds that advice and heads to Las Vegas for a Spa Weekend Trip with a price tag of $1,500 for individuals or $2,500 for PACs. By the way, we trust Wagner’s intuition when it comes to a weekend of relaxation and luxury. She was, after all, the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg during President George W. Bush’s second term.

If you’re more in the mood for a go-go-go weekend, the Americans for Spring Training trip has you covered. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., and Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., will converge in Orlando for a weekend full of spring training baseball games and a day at Walt Disney World.

But ever since Party Time heard about Allen West’s Black Tie Boot Camp weekend in Palm Beach, we couldn’t get it out of our heads. Not only is the invite priceless, we are beyond intrigued to learn about what goes down at West event that combines bow ties and camo. If you have any details – seriously, anything – send it right here.

That’s it for a busy week in out-of-town parties, folks. Let us know what we missed, and keep us posted on what you hear about: Email us, or upload invites here.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Uncategorized • POSTED - 02.24.14 BY Palmer Gibbs

PT Round-up: Justin Timberlake concert + fundraisers, Bill Clinton parties with Alison Lundergan Grimes, plus a gun giveaway and weekend trips

Happy Monday, party people! Aside from more congested streets in D.C., you know how we can tell that Congress is back from break? A super-busy social calendar. Yes, this town will be bustling again with senators and representatives doing good, old-fashioned legislating. But they’ll also manage to find some time for partying with anyone with a checkbook.

Things get started right away, with three – count ’em, three – members of Congress getting their groove on during Monday night’s Justin Timberlake concert. Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., will all attempt to bring sexy back with J.T. at the Verizon Center. Tickets range from $1,000 to $2,500, but you may want to hold off on making any purchases. The “Suit & Tie” singer had to move around his N.Y.C. concert and postponed a show in Buffalo for unspecified “health reasons.”

Frankly, we’re most concerned about how Grimm, known more now for threatening to break a reporter in half than his campaign finance issues, will react to any bad news. For all of our sakes, take your vitamins and get better, Justin.

Later on in the week, Priorities USA hits up donors in the Big Apple. In January, the super PAC, which supported President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection, beefed up its board, brought on Jim Messina (Obama’s former campaign manager), and announced it was aligning itself with Hillary Clinton and her still-TBD 2016 presidential run. Thursday evening’s reception is the first fundraiser since this shakeup, and will provide yet another indicator of which Dem power players will line up behind H.Clinton.

And these are just some of the highlights, partiers! We’ve still got to thumb through our invites of weekend getaways, a gun raffle, and a traditional fundraiser or two. It’s a busy week, but there’s got to be more going on. Let us know what you’ve heard about by emailing us or uploading invites here.

Grimes gets it going

Alison Lundergan Grimes maintains two campaign trends this week: a busy fundraising schedule and big-name special guests.

On Tuesday, Grimes lunches with supporters and Bill Clinton at downtown Louisville’s Galt House, a high-rise hotel on the Ohio River. The former president is tight with Grimes’ father, Jerry Lundergan, a prior chair of Kentucky’s Democratic Party. It’s sure to play out like a family reunion lovefest, with the added benefit of fundraising.

On Sunday evening, Grimes flies to the Sunshine State for a reception in Palm Beach. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who heads up the effort to keep the Senate in Democratic control, will be on hand to ply donors for cash. Recent polls give Grimes a four-point lead over Sen. Mitch McConnell, but the Minority Leader won the fundraising battle at the end of last year.

Paulie, get your gun

Last January, when a slate of Republicans voted against Rep. John Boehner keeping his post as the Speaker of the House, Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia threw some salt into the wound: He suggested outspoken conservative Allen West for the position, even though the Florida congressman had lost his reelection bid and was no longer in Congress. One reporter cited it as an example of Broun’s “flair for the provocative.”

It’s a different year, but the Atlanta native continues with similar tactics. This week, Broun, who is running to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is wrapping up a gun giveaway. Yep, all you need to do is give your name and email address to Broun’s campaign committee and you could win an AR-15. It’s simple, it’s free, and it sure is provocative.

POTUS and VP fundraise for DNC

The partier-in-chief is getting back on the fundraising horse. Last week, President Obama went to a dinner for the Democratic Governors Association at D.C.’s St. Regis, but this Friday, he’s doing his first fundraiser of the year for the Democratic National Committee.

The roundtable discussion is one of the 18 fundraisers Obama has committed to do – so far – for 2014. If you know details for any of these events, send us an email or upload official invites here!

Not to be outdone, Vice President Joe Biden heads to Arizona on Friday. The reception in Phoenix is the second DNC event this year for Biden, who had a dinner fundraiser last week in Minneapolis at the Bachelor Farmer. And that reminds us: Party Time wants to give a big, confidential air high-five to the person who slipped us the menu for that dinner! We love hearing about those details, so keep them coming. Email us, or upload whatever you’ve got.

Cash for Capps

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., may be retiring from Congress but he’s not hanging up his fundraising hat just yet. The longtime SoCal congressman is slated to attend a Wednesday dinner for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., at Capitol Hill’s Monocle Restaurant.

After years of winning handily in safely blue communities, redistricting in 2012 made Capps’ race against Republican Abel Maldonado, a former state senator and lieutenant governor, one to watch. Capps won by 10 points, largely because she was able to – wait for it – raise more money than her challenger.

For the 2014 campaign, Capps is again on the Democrats’ “Frontline” list, which means she’ll benefit from extra support around fundraising and voter outreach. Wednesday’s event will pair Capps with Waxman, buddies from their time together on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Our Real-Time Tracker shows she’s still winning the money game.

Wanna get away?

Everyone needs to get out of the city once in a while. For us regular folks, it means fresh air and a few minutes away from work emails. But for politicians, it means that plus fundraising. And for this upcoming weekend, we’ve got three fundraising trips on the books.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., heads back to his home state on Friday for a Spring Training Trip that’ll cost you $1,500 to $2,500. If a Spa and Cooking Weekend is more your style, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., has you covered with a getaway to the swanky Alluvian Hotel in Greenwood, Miss. While specifics for those two trips are still TBA (you know what to do if you’ve got ‘em), Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, promises plenty of skiing during her Anchorage trip. (And, as a side note, of the three weekend getaways, she totally wins the best invite award. See what we mean?)

What a week, party people. Keep sending us those invites and news tips!

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

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.

Partytime • POSTED - 07.27.11 BY Patrick Simmons

Lawmakers Sing Along with Swift to Raise Cash

Looking to start August on a fundraising high note, seven members of Congress have fundraisers scheduled at a Taylor Swift concert at the Verizon Center next week. The Nashville songstress has two sold out shows on August 2 and August 3.

Six members of Congress will be attending the August 2 performance. Republican senator John Thune, R-S.D, will join Republican representatives Jo Bonner, R-Ala., Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., Tom Price, R-Ga., and Kay Granger, R-Texas, in the Swift sing-along. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C,. is also scheduled to fundraise at the Swift show. The invitation to join the co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition features a distraught looking Swift and suggests invitees bring their son or daughter to join them at the show.

The following night on August 3, Swift will return to the stage, this time with only one lawmaker in attendance. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., is the only member of congress scheduled to attend the August 3 concert.

This is not the first time lawmakers have seen Swift as a fundraising draw. In June last year, Reps. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Tom Price all held fundraisers at a Swift concert at the Verizon center. Rep. Price apparently enjoyed her show enough to fundraise around her again this year.

Tickets to the show are currently sold out, but can be found for as little as $55. The privilege of rocking out to Swift in the company of a member of Congress however carries a price. Tickets to these fundraisers run from $1,000 for two individual tickets with Kay Granger to $3,500 for two PAC tickets with John Thune.

Editor’s Note: After a phone call from the artist’s publicist, we would like to add that Taylor Swift, Messina Group or the Verizon Center have no involvement in the fundraiser.

visualizations • POSTED - 03.25.11 BY Keenan Steiner

The fundraising March is on

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

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

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

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

Powered by Socrata

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

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

ethics • POSTED - 02.07.11 BY Keenan Steiner

Ethics Report allows rare look into Washington’s fundraiser culture

Over on Sunlight’s reporting site is a story about the blurred separation between official staffers and the campaign staff of Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., before a crucial House vote on a bill to overhaul the financial regulatory system.

Using Document Cloud while doing research for the story, we made over 100 notes to the House Committee on Ethics report, which cleared Crowley and two other lawmakers of granting special access to Wall Street interests. In the notes, we have provided background information and links on the lobbyists who are featured on rarely-seen fundraiser attendance lists and who exchanged emails with the three lawmakers’ staffers leading up to the events.

We have also noted some of the Ethics Committee’s main arguments and some interesting details about Washington’s fundraiser culture in the annotation:

*In some cases, prior to going to a fundraiser, attendees (or their PACs) have already committed contributing a certain amount. For instance, KPMG committed $2,500 for a John Campbell, R-Calif., event on Oct. 21, 2009, but the campaign did not disclose receiving the check to the Federal Election Commission until about a month later, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, making it much harder to link a campaign donation to an official action, as the report found.

*The three members’ chiefs of staff and top legislative aides attended many of their fundraisers. Rep. Campbell’s legislative aide for financial services said he goes to about three quarters of his boss’s fundraisers.

The report also includes some interesting tidbits and partisan jabs:

*One lobbyist modestly questioned how appropriate Campbell’s financial services fundraiser was, considering it was the night before a crucial markup on the overhaul bill.

*Asked why his boss held a fundraiser on the same day as the vote, Rep. Tom Price’s, R-Ga., chief of staff compared the Democrats to the The Boy Who Cried Wolf because they “had a habit of yanking votes.” He said he had no way of knowing the vote would actually happen when they said it would.

Party Time even plays a role in the investigation:

*The lawyers for both Price and Campbell used Party Time’s data in their client’s defense. Campbell’s lawyer noted that members of the Financial Services Committee hold similar fundraisers all the time. Committee members put on 109 of them between Oct. 21 and Dec. 11, 2009, he wrote.

ethics • POSTED - 01.27.11 BY Keenan Steiner

House Ethics Committee rejects independent body’s findings on 3 lawmakers

Three lawmakers did not give special access to Wall Street interests at fundraisers around the time of a key House Wall Street regulatory reform vote, the House Committee on Ethics has found, in dismissing a probe yesterday. Rather, the events’ coinciding with crucial votes was by chance, according to the findings.

By concluding that the lawmakers did not even act in a way which appeared improper, the Ethics Committee, an official House body made up of members of Congress, disagreed with the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. That body argued last summer that there was “substantial reason to believe” that each member “solicited or accepted contributions in a manner which gave the appearance that special treatment or access was being provided to donors.”

You can view the over 600-page report here. In the next couple of days, we will be annotating it using Document Cloud.

The report found that the the congressmen’s fundraising consultants arranged the events without coordinating with the members’ official staff. Each member “typically” did not know about the fundraisers until right around the event’s occurrence. Members’ votes were based on “significant legislative concerns,” not requests from donors. And the attendees did not have substantive discussions with members at the fundraisers, according to the report.

The three lawmakers are Reps. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., Tom Price, R-Ga., and John Campbell, R-Calif. Last summer, the OCE dismissed probes into five other lawmakers’ fundraising with Wall Street interests and recommended that the Ethics Committee investigate the trio. Three Crowley and Campbell events were scrutinized while one of Price’s was considered.

The report includes a summary of the three lawmakers’ legislative positions on the bill and amendments over time and an account of what actually happened at the fundraisers. It also includes OCE investigation documents such as the events’ attendees, interviews with the lawmakers and their staff and email exchanges between, for instance, Rep. Crowley’s staff and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

At a Dec. 10, 2009, “Financial Services Luncheon” with Rep. Price, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., was a special guest and made brief, general comments to the crowd.  Price’s chief of staff attended but did not discuss the Wall Street regulatory overhaul bill (H.R. 4173), the report said. Over 2,500 people were invited, according to Price’s fundraising consultant, and the event was initially planned for October but was postponed, the report found.

As we read and annotate the report of next couple of days, there will be more details to come. To start, here are two of the Campbell fundraisers and one of Crowley’s:

ethics • POSTED - 09.01.10 BY Keenan Steiner

Fundraisers for three lawmakers stir up ethics investigation

The three congressmen that the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended for investigation into whether they broke ethics rules around the time of the Financial Regulatory Reform bill late last year attended multiple Capitol Hill fundraisers on the days leading up to crucial votes on the bill.

Earlier this year, the independent OCE opened an investigation into 8 lawmakers who received a high level of campaign contributions from the financial industry leading up to the House vote to approve the overhaul on Dec. 11. The OCE dismissed the cases of five lawmakers, and recommended that the House Ethics Committee go forward with three, the New York Times reported.

Here’s what we know about the three lawmakers’ fundraisers: Joseph Crowley’s, D-N.Y., evening fundraiser occurred at the home of a lobbyist who was paid to lobby on the bill, and the event took place while the House was debating a series of amendments that would have strengthened the bill. The invitation to Tom Price’s, R-Ga., fundraising luncheon, also on Dec. 10, was specifically aimed at the financial services sector.

The connection between the fundraisers held by John Campbell, R- Calif., and the financial industry is less clear. One of the two events he held on Dec. 9 was at the home of defense industry lobbyists Christopher Perkins and Fleming “Mike” Legg.

All three lawmakers have influential finance-related posts. Crowley is the vice chair of finance at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and serves on the tax writing Ways and Means Committee. Price is the chair of the Republican Study Committee, and he and John Campbell sit on the Financial Services Committee.

In one of the dismissal letters, obtained by the Times, sent to Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the OCE hinted at why they cleared these five lawmakers, and why the three others may be in hot water. Hensarling was found not to have: “solicited or accepted contributions in a manner which gave the appearance of special treatment or access was being provided to donors or the appearance that the contributions were linked to an official act.”

The e-mail invitation to the event at Legg’s D Street townhouse was sent out on Nov. 17, 2009, from Michael Gula of the GOP fundraising firm, the Gula Graham Group, and asked donors to attend a “California Wine Tasting” headlined by Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va. Gula wrote:

“The wine tasting will be at 123 D St., SE right around the corner from the [Capitol Hill Club]. We will have multiple wines from California to try. Any chance you can do $500 of $1K to help Congressman Campbell?”

The e-mail also asks donors to attend another fundraiser earlier that day, a lunch at the Capitol Hill Club, a private GOP club steps from the Capitol, headlined by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

As for Crowley, during the Dec. 10 debate over amendments, he left to attend his holiday fundraiser at financial sector lobbyist Julie Domenick’s home, which doubled as her office. He then came back to vote against amendments that would have strengthened the bill, the Times reported.

Domenick told the Center for Public Integrity that she was asked in early November if the Crowley campaign could use her home for a holiday party, and that the event had nothing to do with the House votes.  At least two dozen fundraisers have been planned at her home these past two years, according to Party Time’s database.

Crowley was supposed to attend two other events on Dec. 9 and 10. He was listed as a host for an Adam Smith, D-Wash., fundraiser at a Capitol Hill eatery. The day before, he was scheduled to be at another Hill watering hole, Charlie Palmer Steak, to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – he serves as the group’s vice chair for finance.

Price’s lunch was also at the Capitol Hill Club, headlined by Financial Services Committee ranking member Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. Price also held a fundraising breakfast there on Dec. 2, the day the overhaul bill was voted out of committee.

Click here for a list of other fundraisers hosted by lobbyists for the financial industry.

ethics financial reform • POSTED - 07.15.10 BY Keenan Steiner

Party Time has fundraisers that are focus of ethics investigation

As part of its ongoing investigation into whether eight lawmakers broke ethics rules by taking large campaign donations from the financial sector before a landmark financial regulation vote, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has requested documents from lobbyists who hosted fundraisers at that time,  according to a report in today’s New York Times.

The Party Time database contains invitations for fundraisers for seven out of eight of those lawmakers, all scheduled during the two days preceding the December 11 vote. The Times story today focuses particularly on two December 10 parties: Rep. Joseph Crowley’s, D-N.Y.,  fundraiser at the townhouse owned by financial industry lobbyist Julie Domenick and Rep. Tom Price’s, R-Ga., Capitol Hill Club lunch, where Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee, was billed as a guest.

These eight lawmakers are getting the attention of the OCE, but as the Times story notes–and the Party Time database shows–there were plenty of other fundraisers occurring near the time of the key vote. Take Domenick’s home as an example.

In all, Party Time has two dozen fundraiser invitations for events at the Domenick townhouse from Feb. 2009 through April 2010, including several parties right before the Dec. 11 vote. On Dec. 2, the townhouse was scheduled to be the site of a fundraiser for Rep. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., with Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, listed as a guest. On Dec. 9, Rep. Frank Kratovil, D-Md., planned a fundraiser. Kratovil is a member of the Agriculture Committee, also involved in the Wall St. reform.

According to Party Time records, Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Paul Hodes, D-N.H., (who is running for Senate), Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Ron Klein, D-Fla, all Financial Services Committee members, invited donors to parties at Domenick’s home in early 2010.  Rep. John Boccieri, D-Ohio, planned a party there for February, where Crowley was listed as a guest.

We don’t know if Domenick, who lobbies for the Investment Co Institute and Federated Investors Inc., attended these events or just allowed her home to be used. Domenick recently sold her house, according to this May report.

Party Time has often tracked fundraisers occurring while key legislation is being debated in Congress.  Last month we blogged about (and made a spreadsheet) all of the invitations to fundraisers we had on file for the 43 lawmakers serving on the conference committee for the financial reform bill. We also pointed to invitations for fundraisers scheduled for some Democratic members during the final days of the conference.


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.