John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ dives into congressional partying with Sunlight data


Segment on congressional fundraising begins at 3:06.
This past Sunday, the Sunlight Foundation’s Political Party Time database was featured on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver.

Oliver, using Party Time data, broke down how more than 2,800 fundraising parties were held by members of Congress and candidates in 2013-2014 to support their election efforts. He also amusingly points out that 948 “breakfast fundraisers” have been held at a seafood restaurant called Johnny’s Half Shell, which is just a short walk from the Capitol building.

The piece highlights the outsized role fundraising plays in the daily lives of our congressional representatives. This includes the estimated four hours of “call time” lawmakers go through each day to hit their fundraising goals, numbers which are set by Democratic and Republican party leadership. It’s an alarming amount when you consider that means about 20 hours are spent fundraising during the average congressional work week.

Oliver elaborates on a day in the life of former Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who held three fundraising parties in one 12-hour stretch (and yes, one was a breakfast at Johnny’s Half Shell).    

The report ends with a candid (and hilarious) interview with outgoing U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who himself states that he has been involved with more than 1,600 parties during his 10-year tenure in Congress. Israel made headlines when he authored a scathing indictment of the role fundraising plays in the daily life of members of Congress.  

Thanks to John Oliver and his team at “Last Week Tonight” for the great segment, which reminds us…

Like what you see? Help us out and submit fundraisers

Party Time relies on help from people like you to collect the fundraising invitations that power our database. Simply save any invite as a Word doc, PDF file or image, then submit it anonymously here or attach in an email to partytime[at]sunlightfoundation[dot]com. If you would prefer to get us the invitation in some other way, or you have so many invitations that you need a different method to get them to us, please contact our communications team. We promise anonymity — your name will not be attached to the invitation.