Congressional Hispanic Caucus members are among the stingiest House Democrats when it comes to party giving.
All but one of the CHC’s 23 members had yet to meet their Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee obligations for the cycle, leaving close to $3 million in outstanding dues; a handful of Members had given nothing at all as of Aug. 24, according to a DCCC dues tally. Since then, two others — CHC Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas) — have paid in full, according to the DCCC.
Party dues for the cycle range from $800,000 for top party leaders to $125,000 for rank-and file Members. Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) is the only CHC member who had paid his dues in full, according to the document. Becerra met his $450,000 DCCC goal and raised close to $1 million more for the campaign committee and for Democrats in competitive races.
Some Hispanic lawmakers cited the challenging political and economic environment as the reason for their scant giving, while others said they are frustrated with the lack of progress on comprehensive immigration reform. Those Members said they don’t want their campaign dollars funding Democrats who have blocked progress on an overhaul.
“I want to make sure that the money goes where I think it’s most appropriate, to individuals who are very supportive,” said Rep. Joe Baca (Calif.), who chaired the CHC in 2007-08.
Baca said he wanted to ensure his money went directly to those candidates and incumbents who support comprehensive reform.
Although Baca hadn’t paid his $200,000 in dues, he had raised more than $100,000 this cycle for the DCCC and for Democrats in competitive races.
At the end of the second fundraising quarter, Baca had contributed to three campaigns through his leadership political action committee. This cycle, Baca’s California Aggressive Leadership PAC gave $1,000 to Reps. Frank Kratovil (Md.) and Mark Schauer (Mich.). He also contributed $1,000 to former Rep. Major Owens (N.Y.).
“The DCCC is a member-participation organization, and we appreciate everything our members do for us in ensuring we have a strong Democratic majority,” said Ryan Rudominer, a spokesman for the DCCC.
CHC members are not the only Democrats who have failed to meet their dues obligations over the two-year period — 186 Democratic Members have yet to pay in full. But the group has had a history of strained relations with the DCCC. Hispanic lawmakers have been frustrated in the past when Democratic leaders, including former DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), supported vulnerable Democrats who they say side with Republicans on anti-immigrant legislation.
In November 2007, for example, the CHC boycotted a procedural vote on a Democratic tax bill that was a high priority for leadership. The move prompted an angry exchange between Baca, who helped spearhead the boycott to protest Democratic support for a Republican English-only proposal, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
And CHC members were furious in 2005 when then-DCCC Chairman Emanuel and other Democratic leaders urged vulnerable Frontline Democrats to vote for a GOP proposal designed to crack down on illegal immigrants.
CHC Vice Chairman Charlie Gonzalez said he needs to worry about his own race this cycle.