The PJ Tatler

Dem House Members Failing to Pony Up Dues For Campaign PAC

Facing an uphill battle to retake control of the House from Republicans, about one third of Democratic House members are refusing to pay any dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Another 109 members have made only partial payments, according to this article in Politico:

In June, GOP members flooded the National Republican Congressional Committee with nearly $6.4 million. The DCCC secured just $1.8 million from Democratic lawmakers.

Removing a lawmaker’s picture from the national Democratic Party’s headquarters might sound like the ultimate indignity, but officials tasked with expanding the party’s House ranks contend that it’s more than fitting treatment for those they no longer regard as team players.

“In a campaign environment where Republican outside groups have billionaire funders like [Las Vegas casino mogul] Sheldon Adelson, who can write $5 million checks like it’s nothing, Democratic candidates need to be better funded than Republicans,” said Ali Lapp, who runs the Democratic group House Majority PAC. “To the extent that Republican members are giving more to Republican candidates than Democratic members are giving to Democratic candidates, it’s a problem.”

The lack of giving is a problem because members — many of whom have flush campaign accounts — typically are one of the DCCC’s largest sources of funding.

Republicans have been much more generous doling out cash to their candidates in hard-fought races, second quarter fundraising reports released last week show.

John Tavaglione, a Republican candidate in California, received more than $59,000 from GOP House members. The total for Tavaglione’s Democratic opponent, Mark Takano, from Democratic lawmakers: just more than $20,000. And while Indiana Republican Jackie Walorski took nearly $73,000 from Republican lawmakers, her Democratic opponent, Brendan Mullen, received just $22,000 from Democrats.

The disparity has only strengthened the tide against which Democrats are swimming. While only 25 seats Democrats from the majority, they likely will need to seize a total of 35 or 40 Republican-held seats to wrest the speakership from John Boehner — a daunting task in a year in which neither party appears to have strong momentum.

The Democrats have tried everything to get deadbeat members to pay up, including denying the scofflaws a premium convention package that would get them a nice room at a choice hotel, and full access to all convention activities. But GOP pockets run deep this year and most members believe that they are going to need every dollar they can get to prevail in their own races.

The failure to pay also reflects an unease in Democratic ranks with Pelosi herself. It’s no secret that the speaker does not enjoy universal support from her caucus. The historic calamity that befell Democrats in 2010 resulted in a challenge to her leadership from North Carolina’s Heath Shuler. And while Pelosi was able to weather that challenge, there were many House Democrats who cast their vote for her with reluctance — and a dose of fear, given the consequences of voting against the speaker as far as lost committee assignments and other indignities that could have been heaped upon apostates.

Shuler is retiring after this term, having been redistricted out by the GOP legislature in North Carolina. He is one of those Democratic House members who hasn’t ponied up anything to the DCCC, despite having $164,000 in his campaign warchest. Other retiring members are also hanging on to their cash. Of 15 Democratic members leaving office voluntarily this cycle, 14 have not paid their dues in full.

The writing is on the wall for Pelosi and the Democrats. And the party’s failure to entice its own members to pay up and assist challengers and vulnerable office holders speaks volumes about how the Democrats view their chances in 2012.