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Party Time at five! Take our transparency challenge

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August. It’s the month official Washington escapes the steaming city and heads elsewhere—and that includes the political fundraisers. But members of Congress and other politicians don’t stop their race for cash when they go home to their districts; instead, they take the parties with them. This week, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., is hosting donors for a Cubs game in Wrigley Field. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho has a “hook and bullet” fundraiser for his political action committee in Sun Valley. On Saturday, Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., will fete big givers at the Saratoga race course. We know about all this and much, much more because on this day five years ago, we officially launched Sunlight’s one-of-a-kind database of political fundraisers, Political Party Time. Since then, we have archived some 18,000 invitations and, in the process, gained new insights -- for better and for worse -- into the folkways of American political life. From the mini-golf course on DC’s gentrifying H Street NE to the links of Kiawah Island’s Sanctuary course, from Krispy Kreme breakfasts to champagne brunches, from Lambeau Field to a Beyonce concert, we’ve tracked the literally round-the-clock efforts of our nation’s elected officials to raise campaign cash and travails of their equally relentless fellow travelers: the lobbyists who must fork over the cash for a chance to dine on what goes for MRE’s in “This Town:” hors d’oeuvres on a toothpick. It’s a system nobody really loves: not the lawmakers who publicly bemoan the hours they spend raising money nor the lobbyists whose inboxes burst with ever more innovative reasons for them to spend time away from their loved ones.

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