It’s…………Party Time!

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Today, we are launching a new Web site, Party Time, a project to track parties thrown at the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions as well as fund raising activities by all lawmakers running for Congress that happen all year round in Washington, D.C. and beyond.

The count of parties and events we’ve heard about scheduled for the Democratic and Republican National Conventions is now above 400-and counting. As we noted the other week, here, these convention parties are often sponsored by corporate interests such as Citi, Eli Lilly and Qwest, as well as powerhouse lobbying firms such as Patton Boggs. They continue despite new ethics reforms intended to rein in excesses of special interest bashes for members of Congress. Many of these party hosts are also sponsors of the conventions’ host committees, major donors to federal candidates and party committees and are also big spenders on federal lobbying.

So, for example:

  • AT&T is hosting more than a dozen parties at both conventions, most of them parties for different state delegations. The company is also underwriting both the Democratic and GOP Convention committees, and happens to be the #2 top donor to federal and candidates and parties since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. AT&T has spent more than $3 million on federal campaign contributions and lobbying combined in 2008 alone, 60% of which is directed to the GOP. It has also spent another $3.2 million on federal lobbying.
  • Qwest’s CEO, Ed Mueller, is hosting an event at the Denver Art Museum on Monday, August 25. The company is also giving the Democratic and GOP Convention host committees a total of some $12 million in direct and in-kind contributions. Qwest has given $682,000 to federal candidates and parties so far this election cycle, and spent $1.7 million on lobbying.
  • A long list of financial service powerhouses are sponsoring a “financial literacy brunch” at the Democratic National Convention, including Allstate, AEGON, Bank of America, Capitol One, Charles Schwab, Edward Jones, Fidelity, Genworth, MasterCard, Mutual of Omaha, Nationwide, Principal Financial Group, State Farm, NASDAQ, US Bank, Visa, Wachovia and Wells Fargo. These companies are major campaign contributors and lobbying forces in Washington.

At Party Time, we’ll be tracking these parties and events at the conventions. And we’ll keep tracking parties after the conventions are over. We’ve already compiled information on fundraising parties for members of Congress and congressional candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike, dating back to 2006, often posting invitations before the events happen.

While invitations to these parties and events go out by the dozen to lobbyists, there is no official requirement that they be reported to the public. Sunlight collects them from sources whose anonymity is protected. Because of this, the list of parties is ever-growing as we hear about them. 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.

If you receive invitations, you can submit them anonymously to the Party Time Web site.

I never thought I’d write this in a blog post-but: party on, dude!

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