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October 17, 2011

Super Committee Members Really Do Raise More Money

By crewstaff

Capitol BuildingThe three Republican House members of the “super committee” reported significant fundraising gains in the third quarter, the first fundraising period after their appointments to the committee.  As Politico reported earlier, Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Fred Upton (R-MI), and Dave Camp (R-MI) all raised more than $400,000 in the period.  More startling, though, is that together they raised more than double what they raised in the same quarter two years ago.  In total, the three House Republicans raised $1.6 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to just $771,000 in the same period in 2009. 

CREW first raised concerns about super committee fundraising in August given the committee’s vast mandate to determine which federally financed programs should be saved or jettisoned.  The release of the newest fundraising reports confirms CREW’s prediction that special interests are willing to pay for access to members of the committee.

Leading the pack, Rep. Camp dramatically increased this year’s take, raising 177% more in 2011 than he did in 2009.  Rep. Camp raised $254,000 in 2009, but took home a remarkable $704,000 this year.  CREW compared this year’s totals to 2009, the last non-election fundraising year.

Rep. Upton also capitalized on his appointment, increasing his fundraising from $162,000 in 2009 to $401,000 this year, an increase of nearly 150%.  Oddly enough, super committee co-chair Hensarling brought up the rear, raising $472,000 this year in contrast to $355,000 in 2009, only a 33% increase.

In contrast, the House Democrats on the committee combined to raise just $663,000 in the third quarter, a 15% decrease from 2009 to 2011.  Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), whose appointment was featured in a fundraising solicitation shortly after his appointment, raised $203,000 in the third quarter, an 11% increase over the same period in 2009.  Both Reps. James Clyburn (D-SC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) raised less money in 2011 than they did in 2009. 

The fact that the GOP regained control of the House surely accounts for some of the increase in Republican fundraising, but probably not the dramatic differences seen in the numbers for Reps. Upton and Camp.  Given the Democrats’ minority status, it is less surprising that fundraising was down for Reps. Clyburn and Van Hollen.  Of course, this makes Rep. Becerra’s 11% increase all the more notable, particularly in light of his aggressive effort to capitalize on his appointment to the committee.

Though the FEC has yet to publish most Senate reports, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has submitted his third quarter report.  In September, following CREW’s call for a fundraising ban for super committee members, Sen. Kerry announced he would take a hiatus from fundraising while on the committee, and his reports bear that out: Sen. Kerry raised just $16,000 in the third quarter of 2011.

In August, CREW sent a letter to House and Senate leaders asking them to urge members of the super committee to refrain from fundraising while on the committee.   Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Dean Heller (R-NV) agreed that fundraising  on the committee threatens the public’s confidence in the committee’s product, sending a letter to that effect on September 7, 2011.   Unfortunately, as the new FEC reports show, some super committee members remain unmoved by this concern.  Instead of forgoing fundraising, they are relying on their appointments to raise even more money.

When the remaining forms for senators and PACs are publically available, CREW will update our findings to gauge the full extent of fundraising by super committee members. 

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