Political Party Time

It's about the money

For the men and women who are seeking your votes, life is an endless round of meetings, roll calls and . . . fundraisers. Virtually every day, candidates and the incumbents they want to unseat are breakfasting, lunching, dining and happy-houring for dollars. With so much competition for the time and money of interest groups, some get very creative. Since its start in 2008, Party Time has chronicled fundraising concerts, baseball outings, fishing trips and much, much more.

Though these fundraisers vary from small receptions to lavish getaways, few are cheap. Attendees, often well-connected lobbyists, are often asked to shell out thousands of dollars for a ticket. Sometimes, lobbyists play the role of fundraisers themselves, by hosting an event and asking a network of associates to chip in. The majority of these invitations are for events in Washington, D.C. Only a relatively small fraction relate to outside-the-Beltway events -- a circumstance we'd like to change with a little help from our friends! As a result, the information contained in the database is by no means complete, but is the most comprehensive listing of political fundraisers available.

The tens of thousands of invitations to fundraisers we collected since 2008 have made the Sunlight Foundation's Party Time a central clearinghouse of information for journalists, citizen journalists, activists and voters who are interested in following the money -- and the influence it carries. On this site, you can search and sort parties according to who gets the money, who is throwing the fundraiser, where the party was held, what kind of party is was, and what other VIPs attended. Often you can find out about fundraisers here before they happen, but our data is also useful for looking back and discovering patterns in giving.

Method to our madness

Whenever possible, Sunlight tries to collect the invitations and post them publicly. But in the interest of giving as complete a picture as possible, we also search the web for any mentions of fundraising events and include any we find -- in media accounts and elsewhere.

Some invitations come directly from beneficiaries or hosts, others from reputable anonymous sources. Other invitations or mentions of fundraisers we find on websites of campaigns, political committees and other interest groups. Still others come from press accounts. Whatever documentation we can find is posted here as a public service in the interest of creating more transparency about the relationships between lawmakers and the people who try to influence them. The original documentation is converted into PDF format and loaded onto our Scribd site. We then enter key information from into our database so that users can find events by beneficiary, venue or host. You can do more sophisticated searches (by, say, ticket price or date range) by downloading our bulk data. Sunlight is not responsible for the content of the invitations themselves (including erroneous information) or for verifying whether the events advertised in the invitations actually occurred as scheduled. However, if we receive trustworthy information about event cancellations. we note that fact on our blog. We do our best to ensure the quality of the data; however, if you spot an error, we would appreciate your notifying us. Members of the press can contact us here.

We welcome contributions to our database: Uploading is easy. Please help us make this tool as accurate and as comprehensive as possible.

Thanks for visiting!

--Sunlight's Party Time coordinators