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February 7, 2016

Posts in "Fundraising"

August 26, 2015

Parties Play Politics With FEC Complaints

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 31: FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman makes a statement during his first meeting at the Commission's downtown office, as Chair Ellen Weintraub, and Commissioner Ann Ravel, look on. It was the first meeting attended by Ravel and Goodman. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman makes a statement as then-Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, and then-Commissioner Ann Ravel listen. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ethics problems can be serious trouble for any politician, but party strategists often use Federal Election Committee complaints to play games with the opposition, because the allegation has a slim chance of being ruled on before Election Day.

“Everyone knows both sides file complaints to get press hits,” one campaign strategist said anonymously in order to speak candidly.

Full story

May 8, 2015

Caveat Emptor, in Political Giving Too



Two days before the Tuesday special election in New York’s 11th District, I received one of those hysterical email requests for money.

I’m on many candidate, political action committee and interest group email distribution lists, so I get them from both sides. This one was from something called Patriots for Economic Freedom. Full story

May 5, 2015

Senate Races, Pro Salaries and Perspective on Spending

Reid, pictured here with fellow Las Vegas native Bryce Harper, has railed against the influence of money in politics. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reid, pictured here with fellow Las Vegas native and Washington National Bryce Harper, has railed against the influence of money in politics. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Complaining about campaign spending is a time-honored tradition, along with the Kentucky Derby and Major League Baseball. But a closer look reveals the dollars spent on controlling government pales in comparison to spending in other areas of life. Full story

April 23, 2015

‘Big Money’ and the 2016 Elections

Elections 2016

Will campaign finance issues get some attention during the 2016 elections? Sure. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reporters love to write about money in politics, so I shouldn’t have been at all surprised by an April 20 Washington Post article suggesting campaign finance is becoming an issue in the presidential contest.

But a front-page story above the fold that relied on a couple of anecdotes and never came close to demonstrating that “big money” was becoming a crucial issue to voters?

Full story

October 21, 2014

Weak GOP Candidates May Need More Than a Good Year

Thom Tillis

Tillis hopes to unseat Hagan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans have the wind at their backs this year. But not every GOP nominee is taking advantage of that dynamic. As usual, some candidates are under-performing, proving once again that candidates and the campaigns they choose to run actually matter.

That should come as no surprise to anyone who watched Republican Senate nominees Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana implode in 2012 or Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell and Colorado Republican Ken Buck lose in 2010.

But this year, the problem children are not candidates foisted on the party by the Club for Growth or tea party groups. This cycle, the problem is a handful of candidates favored by most in the Republican “establishment.” They looked like strong nominees (some even like slam dunks) a year before Election Day, but they haven’t acted that way.

Full story

October 14, 2014

Why Republicans Must Win the Senate in 2014

Mary Landrieu

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If next month produces a big Republican year, with the GOP gaining control of the Senate and expanding its majority in the House, it will say little or nothing about 2016, when a presidential electorate and a very different Senate class combine to create the makings of a substantially good Democratic year.

But if the GOP fails to capture the Senate this year, 2016 could turn into an unmitigated disaster for the party. And for that reason, Republicans are under extremely heavy pressure to take back the Senate in November. Full story

October 6, 2014

What If I’m Wrong About GOP Flipping at Least 7 Seats?

Mary Landrieu

Landrieu (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A few weeks ago I wrote Senate Republicans would gain at least seven seats, even though the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call race ratings showed a likely Republican gain of five to eight seats.

That expectation was based on national survey results that showed the president extremely is unpopular and voters are unhappy with the direction of the country, as well as state polling that showed Democratic incumbents well below the critical 50 percent threshold in ballot tests against their GOP opponents.

My prediction shouldn’t have been all that startling. After all, Mitt Romney carried seven states where Democrats are defending Senate seats, and in this era of declining ticket-splitting, it wouldn’t be surprising for anti-President Barack Obama voters to vote against the Senate nominees of the president’s party.

Indeed, midterm electoral history would suggest Democrats have an uphill battle to hold onto the Senate.

But, as I pointed out in the column, with only three Democratic Senate seats in the bag for the GOP — South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana — Republicans can’t yet be certain they will net the six seats they need for a majority in the next Congress.

So what could/would cause me to change my expectations over the next month? How could Democrats alter the election’s trajectory? Full story

March 5, 2014

Bill Clinton’s Real Impact on the Kentucky Senate Race

Clinton campaigns for Alison Lundergan Grimes' bid for Senate. (Luke Sharrett/Getty Images News)

Clinton campaigns for Alison Lundergan Grimes’ bid for Senate. (Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)

The national media’s reaction to former President Bill Clinton’s recent trip to Kentucky to boost the Senate candidacy of Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was predictable.

Most of my colleagues in the media can’t resist a Clinton (Bill or Hillary) sighting, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s electoral test has become one of the go-to stories of this electoral cycle, even outside the Bluegrass State.

What is less understandable is why many of those who covered the Clinton event in Louisville didn’t address the question of his impact on the race in a serious way. Full story

February 10, 2014

DCCC Is 2013 Fundraising Winner, but DNC Drops the Ball

A look at the end-of-the-year financial reports of the two House campaign committees, two Senate campaign committees and two national party committees makes it pretty clear which ones have something to crow about and which have some explaining to do.

The big winner is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC, chaired by New York Rep. Steve Israel, brought in almost $76 million last year, ending December with more than $29 million in the bank.

It was a remarkable showing, given that Democrats are in the minority and there was only a brief chance, in October, that they could regain control of the House in 2014.

Full story

February 7, 2014

American Crossroads Preparing to Enter the Game

More than a few Republican operatives have been expressing nervousness about whether American Crossroads, the party’s big super PAC that was so active in 2010 and 2012, will play another significant role this cycle. They note that Americans for Prosperity has been carrying the “outside” load so far against Democratic super PACs and wonder how long that can continue.

GOP worry is likely to increase now that Patriot Majority USA, another Democratic “outside” group will, according to a piece in Politico, begin to air new ads in Senate contests. The Senate Majority PAC and League of Conservation Voters are already airing ads that seek to help Democratic Senate prospects.

American Crossroads showed just $2.7 million in the bank at the end of December, raising questions about whether it, along with its sister organization, Crossroads GPS, can come close to the $70 million they spent in the 2010 cycle and the $100 million they spent during the 2012 cycle on paid advocacy in House and Senate races. (The two groups’ total spending for the 2012 cycle exceeded $300 million, but roughly two-thirds of that was spent on the presidential contest.)

Crossroads contributors apparently have sat on their hands so far, frustrated after promises of Republican victories in 2012 that never materialized. Full story

October 30, 2013

In Louisiana, Democrats Doth Protest Too Much

Cassidy is running for Senate. (Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Cassidy is running for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If you were a Democrat who thought the GOP was heading toward selecting a weak nominee incapable of beating Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., next year, would you tear down that damaged candidate, knowing that it might bring stronger hopefuls into the race? Or would you keep your mouth shut, so Republicans would nominate the sure loser?

The answer is obvious, which is why all the huffing and puffing by the Campaign for Louisiana, a project of the Louisiana Democratic Party, about how terrible Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy’s Senate campaign is doesn’t make much sense.

It doesn’t make sense, unless, of course, the folks at the Campaign for Louisiana are worried about Cassidy and are simply using every opportunity to try to discredit him. Now that would be shocking, wouldn’t it? Full story

October 7, 2013

Shutdown Fever: Is the House in Play Now?

On Sunday, a Huffington Post headline screamed what most Democrats were hoping: “GOP In Grave Danger Of Losing House In 2014, PPP Polls Show.” Of course, anything coming from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling and Political Action, which paid for the surveys, must be taken with at least a grain of salt.

PPP isn’t your typical polling firm. Its surveys often are intended to boost Democratic recruiting, fundraising or prospects. In this case, the “polls” were almost certainly commissioned to create a narrative about the political repercussions of the shutdown and the nature of the midterms.

It’s no coincidence, then, that the PPP memo accompanying the results, written by Jim Williams, observes, “The surveys challenge the conventional wisdom that gerrymandering has put the House out of reach for Democrats.”

Not surprisingly, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out multiple fundraising emails in the hours after reports of the PPP polls surfaced, and dozens of Democratic candidates and liberal groups did the same.

That’s the standard modus operandi these days on both the right and the left: have a sympathetic media organization or polling firm assert some alleged finding, and then have fellow travelers cite the initial report to try to raise cash or create momentum. It is becoming (yawn — excuse me) a little trite. Full story

September 24, 2013

RNC Fundraises Off Ted Cruz

First quarter fundraising from 2011 gave no indication that Cruz would be the eventual GOP Senate nominee in Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republicans are using Cruz to fundraise. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is an advocate of the big-tent approach to grow the GOP, but apparently he isn’t above grabbing onto Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s coattails if it can help fundraising.

An RNC fundraising email dated today at 4:06 p.m., titled “I Stand with Ted” and coming from Priebus, invokes Cruz’s name and his “fight to defund ObamaCare.” Cruz was on the floor at the time advocating the repeal of the president’s key legislative accomplishment.

“Join me and stand with Ted today,” says the email, which asks recipients to sign up and “tell Harry Reid to defund ObamaCare immediately.” And of course, at the end of the email is a “Contribute Now” button. Full story

July 22, 2013

Want to Run for Congress? Prepare to Ask People for Money 8 Hours a Day

As a political analyst, it’s easy to criticize candidates for not raising enough money. But it’s also easy to forget how hard it is to raise money. And it’s no wonder that most potential candidates pause before taking the plunge into a congressional race because of the burden of fundraising.

The dirty secret of campaigns is that unless a candidate is independently wealthy, the vast majority of his or her time will be spent raising money. Those kitchen table meetings with struggling parents and standing up for the Constitution on a street corner soapbox? They’re put on the back burner compared with fundraising for candidates who hope to win. Full story

May 13, 2013

Alaska Senate Poll: Far, Far Less Than Meets the Eye

A Harper Polling survey conducted for the Tea Party Leadership Fund, an obscure conservative group that has supported Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun and Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, is one of those polls probably meant for fundraising and little else.

Though writing about the poll and the polling memo automatically gives them more attention than they deserve, those of us in the media can’t merely ignore these kinds of questionable polls conducted for groups that seem more interested in fundraising than in affecting elections.

The May 6-7 IVR survey of 379 respondents tested former Gov. Sarah Palin, 2010 GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell in a three-way Republican primary ballot test, as well as Palin-Miller and Treadwell-Miller in head-to-head ballot tests.

The Harper Polling memo claims that Palin “leads” in the three-way ballot (Palin 32 percent, Treadwell 30 percent, Miller 14 percent), even though her 2-point advantage over Treadwell is well within the poll’s margin of error.

Both Palin and Treadwell lead Miller in head-to-heads, but the lack of a Palin-vs.-Treadwell ballot test deserves to raise eyebrows about the group’s motivation in underwriting the survey. Even including Palin in the poll seems odd. Treadwell has already formed an exploratory committee, while there is no reason to believe that Palin is in the least bit interested in a Senate race.

The polling memo says that “Palin boasts the strongest image” among GOP voters, but that is far from an entirely accurate assessment.

Palin’s name ID ratings are 62 percent favorable/30 percent unfavorable, while Treadwell’s are 54 percent favorable and 15 percent unfavorable. His favorable rating is lower than Palin’s, but his favorable-to-unfavorable ratio is much better. Her ratio is about 2-to-1, while his is close to 3.5-to-1. Treadwell’s unfavorable rating is half of Palin’s.

As for the Tea Party Leadership Fund, according to its 2012 end-of-the-year Federal Election Commission report, the group raised $1.17 million. Almost 90 percent of that came from small-dollar, unitemized individual contributions.

But the fund spent only a little more than $205,000 (less than 18 percent of total receipts) on contributions to candidates or on independent expenditures. More than half of the fund’s federal disbursements during the same period — $545,248 of $951,096 — went to Strategic Fundraising, a well-known Minnesota-based GOP fundraising firm.

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