Party Time Shows Fundraising While Legislating is Widespread

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Today the New York Times reports that the Office on Congressional Ethics (OCE)  is continuing to dig in to its investigation of eight lawmakers who collected large sums from financial interests in the days leading up to a key vote last December. Investigators are asking for documents from corporate donors and lobbyists who hosted fundraisers for these members of Congress.

Over at the Party Time project, we have on file fundraising invitations for seven out of eight of the lawmakers being investigated, all events occuring within two days of the vote.

But we also have a lot more than that. As Keenan Steiner reports, the Party Time database contains some two dozen invitations for fundraisers held at the home of Julie Domenick, one of the financial services lobbyists who is being asked for more information. These include several parties for lawmakers who are members of the House Financial Services Committee.

Party Time often reports on fundraisers held around the time when a particular issue is on the Congressional agenda. For example, as Steiner writes,

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.

In 2008, we reported that members of the House Banking and House Financial Services committees were the beneficiaries of more than 400 fundraisers over the previous year, even as lawmakers were debating the massive financial bailout.

And these are just a few examples. The fact is, fundraising while legislating is a widespread, every-day kind of practice in Washington, and the fundraising invitations available at Party Time help demonstrate it.

One more note: reportedly OCE investigators are centering on the eight lawmakers because they received large amounts in campaign contributions from financial interests before the House vote. This is an interesting analysis that can only be done far after the fact, since campaign contribution records are not available for public persual at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) for weeks, and often months, after they are collected.

Indeed, senators still are permitted to file their campaign contributions on paper, which the FEC must then convert back into electronic records, which is expensive and inefficient. This is why the Sunlight Foundation advocates that senators should file electronically. We also believe in the idea that all of this information–and more–ought to be available online, in real time, so we can see who is influencing our elected officials and how while issues are actually being debated. For more information, check out the “Public equals Online” campaign.

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