The Republican takeover of the U.S. House doubled campaign donations for lawmakers who gained committee chairmanships with the change in control. For the chamber’s typical rank-and-file Republican, the majority premium has meant a 36 percent increase in fundraising.
The BGOV Barometer shows the increase in campaign funds House Republicans have raised for this year’s election after their party won back the chamber’s majority in 2010. Legislators who became committee chairman have raised an average of $1.6 million in the current campaign as of March 31. That compares with the average $803,341 they raised as of the same date in the 2009-2010 election cycle.
Committee chairmen who raised the most money -- the heads of Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Budget, and Financial Services -- reaped as much as a three-fold increase in fund- raising since taking the leadership positions.
Michigan Republican Fred Upton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has raised $2.5 million so far in the current campaign. That’s more than three times the $825,486 he had collected during the first 15 months of the 2010 campaign. Upton’s panel has jurisdiction over a wide range of economic activity, from Medicaid to enforcement of the Clean Air Act.
Another Michigan Republican, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, increased his fund-raising to $2.9 million in the current campaign season, double the $1.4 million he’d collected at this time two years ago, when his party was in the minority. Camp’s panel would have responsibility for drafting legislation if Congress considers overhauling the U.S. tax code.
Fewer Minority Rights
The fundraising boost that comes with gaining majority control is especially significant in the House, where the rules “give the minority party many fewer rights than in the Senate,” said David Primo, political scientist at the University of Rochester in New York. Donations to committee chairs “clearly reflect the significant role Congress continues to play in regulating key areas of the economy -- notably health care and financial services.”
The fund-raising increase for rank-and-file lawmakers was calculated to exclude funds raised by six House Republicans who ran for the Senate in 2010 and six others seeking Senate seats this year. If donations to those Senate candidates are counted, such as $3.9 million raised by Jeff Flake of Arizona, House Republican fund-raising is up 29 percent from two years ago.
House and Senate candidates report campaign fundraising and expenditures to the Federal Election Commission on a quarterly basis during each two-year election cycle.
The numbers show even House members among those raising the least money do better as part of the majority party. For example, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher raised $130,205 during the first five quarters of the 2009-2010 election campaign.
This time around Rohrabacher, 64, now the fourth-most senior member of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, has raised almost 2 1/2 times as much -- $320,765. He’s also the chairman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs panel.
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