Who’s Afraid of a Little Passing Press Scrutiny?

Politico on the fundraising freshmen

They’re quick studies, the newest members of Congress, according to
this story from Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel. Vogel reports that many freshmen have already learned “the oldest political survival tactic in the book…quickly refilling campaign coffers with cash from Washington special interests vilified on the campaign trail.”

More Vogel:

Since Election Day, first-term members of Congress have held more than 40 events on K Street, Capitol Hill and around town to schmooze and raise money from lobbyists, political action committees and other representatives of Washington interest groups eager to establish relationships with the new class.

And? Any sense of how all the hat-passing has gone?

In just the first three weeks after Election Day — traditionally a slow time in the fundraising world — PACs contributed more than $444,000 to dozens of the 96 incoming members of Congress, according to Federal Election Commission filings analyzed by Politico.

Vogel walks readers through how lawmakers connect with cash, including through leadership PACs (“an account separate from [a] campaign war chest, that is used to dole out donations to other candidates and committees”), “joint fundraising committees” (such as the Illinois House Republican Freshmen “benefiting that state’s freshman GOP class”) and with the aid of “Washington-based fundraising firms that specialize in helping members raise money from PACs and lobbyists.”

Interesting stuff, all. As is this (emphasis mine):

Former Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, who served a term as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is dedicated to reelecting members, said lawmakers should expect to occasionally take some flak for fundraising in Washington, but that shouldn’t deter them.

“Assuming the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed,” most fundraising scrutiny “will soon be forgotten and be at the bottom of the birdcage, but the money will remain as a benefit,” Davis said.

In other words, the former Congressman advises with the confidence of having been-there-and-done-that, taking money from special interests may get you “occasional” “flak” or “scrutiny,” but it also definitely gets you…money. And that “scrutiny?” Won’t be long before it’s collecting parakeet poop.

Not much faith in the attention spans of the press or the people.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.