As the 2008 presidential hopefuls raise record amounts of cash, former and current Members of Congress — using their personal campaign funds and political action committees — are doing their part to further swell the contenders’ coffers.
Fundraising records show that most Members have contributed to the candidate they have endorsed, though some current and many ex-lawmakers are hedging their bets by giving to more than one campaign.
Not surprisingly, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) led all 2008 contenders in contributions from Members in the second quarter of the year.
She collected at least $55,000 from current and former lawmakers — including an interesting mix of former Senators: Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.), John Breaux (D-La.) and Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.).
D’Amato, now a New York-based lobbyist, has donated to three of the 2008 contenders, spreading his contributions across both sides of the aisle.
After giving to Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) presidential bid in March, the former New York Senator gave to Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s 2008 effort in May, and Clinton’s campaign reported D’Amato’s PAC donation on June 1.
D’Amato appeared to be lining up behind McCain in March — he reportedly endorsed him but then denied doing so the next day — but he is now firmly ensconced in former Sen. Fred Thompson’s (R-Tenn.) camp.
D’Amato is heading up Thompson’s New York campaign and acting as a national adviser.
Most of Clinton’s donations came in the form of maximum contributions from the campaign committees of her House supporters, including Democratic Reps. Gary Ackerman (N.Y.), Robert Andrews (N.J.), Tim Bishop (N.Y.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (Ohio), Frank Pallone (N.J.) and Allyson Schwartz (Pa.).
Pallone gave through both his campaign committee and PAC.
Former Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-Colo.) gave $1,000 and ex-Reps. Jim Barcia (D-Mich.) and Carrie Meek (D-Fla.) each gave $2,000.
Clinton’s haul from Members would appear to be a drop in the bucket considering she has raised more than $52.5 million for her campaign. But hers is a monumental total compared with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), her main rival.
Obama has touted the fact that 258,000 individuals donated to his campaign in the first six months of the year, but he received no contributions from Members in the second quarter.
Obama has focused on building grass-roots support for his outsider-themed campaign, for which he had raised $58.9 million as of June 30. He is not taking contributions from registered lobbyists and has received less than $6,000 from the campaign committees of federal candidates and officeholders.
“We are proud to have the support of Members like Sen. Dick Durbin [Ill.], Congressman Artur Davis [Ala.], Congressman Adam Smith [Wash.] and several others who are playing active roles organizing in their home states and advising on key issues,” said Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “We can’t put a dollar sign on the value of their support.”
Earlier this year, Obama received contributions from former Democratic Sens. Fritz Hollings (S.C.) and Bob Kerrey (Neb.).
Hollings has been generous to his former colleagues (though he never served with Obama), giving $2,300 on March 16 to Obama, Clinton, Dodd, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.