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Party Like a Congressman

August 19, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

Just in time for the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the Sunlight Foundation has launched a new site – Party Time – that shows when and where the political parties are happening.

>It’s not all hearings, floor votes and constituent services for members of Congress. From the early morning hours until late at night, there are opportunities for members of Congress and congressional candidates to meet with supporters behind closed doors, press them for money, and party. Breakfasts, luncheons, barbecues, golfing outings, receptions, concerts, basketball, baseball, football—the social whirl is endless.
>But unlike ordinary social gatherings, these typically are parties with a particular purpose: fundraising. The hosts—quite often well connected lobbyists—aren’t asking the typical questions for a more humble gathering— “Why don’t you bring dessert?” or “A bottle of wine would be nice.” Instead, he or she is asking for cold, hard cash—$1,000, $5,000, $10,000 and more—to help fill a member of Congress’ campaign coffers.

Since there are no disclosure requirements for these kinds of events, the site relies on anonymous, insider sources to submit the invitations they receive. Then, often before the party is scheduled to happen, the Party Time editors post all the information, including an image of the actual invitation, so that the public has a chance to see what the congressional party scene looks like. For example, here are a couple of events that are happening soon:

Senator Mike Crapo’s (R-ID) annual “Hook and Bullet”:

>You’ll enjoy horseback riding, fly fishing, trap shooting, a country western band and the best BBQ in the West on a beautiful ranch in Picabo, Idaho. Cost is $2500 to benefit Senator Mike Crapo’s leadership PAC, Freedom Fund.

Rep. Thad McCotter’s (R-MI) golf outing, featuring access to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH):

>A rare and great opportunity for you on August 21st to play the number 18th best US course, Oakland Hills Country Club, a PGA Championship Course. The suggested contribution is $2,500 per PAC.

(Pictured above is former Rep. John Sweeney at a frat party in 2006.)

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