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DCCC Pushes for Unpaid Dues

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel made an appeal last month to his Caucus members, asking them to cough up their unpaid dues.

As House Democratic leaders make an end-of-year push for money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a number of rank-and-file lawmakers are hoarding campaign cash to protect themselves in battles caused by redistricting.

And as the party looks to win 25 seats in 2012 to take back the majority, every dollar counts.

The New Jersey delegation, which will lose one seat because of reapportionment, includes at least four Democratic Members who have more than $1 million in cash on hand and have given little or no money to meet their DCCC obligations, according to a dues sheet obtained by Roll Call. All cash-on-hand figures are as of Sept. 30. The dues paid are as of Nov. 4.

Pennsylvania is also losing a seat. Perhaps not coincidentally, four of the state’s seven Democrats have not contributed a dime in DCCC dues.

In Ohio, which is losing two seats, only Rep. Marcy Kaptur has given money in dues this year. The state’s four other Democrats have not.

Redistricting has prompted a handful of races pitting incumbent Democrats against one another, and those matchups have prompted Members to hold on to their money. California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, who will likely go head-to-head in a primary, have nearly $6 million combined in cash on hand and have been slow to pay the DCCC.

With some 2012 maps set, though, Democratic aides argue the excuse of hoarding cash because of redistricting is running out. Leaders, meanwhile, are making their own fundraising push to end the year on a high note. 

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has paid $450,000 toward her $800,000 dues obligation and has raised at least $20 million for the committee, according to the DCCC’s dues sheet. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) has given $450,000 in dues and raised $1.7 million for the committee this year. DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) has already paid off his dues and is just $1 million shy of his goal to raise $10 million for the committee.

Israel made an appeal to colleagues at a Caucus meeting last month, urging Members to cough up money for their dues.

“If an online donor can write a $32 check to help put you back in the majority, you can write a check to help put us back in the majority,” Israel said at the Oct. 25 Caucus meeting, according to a Democratic source.

Using a little humor to make his pitch, Israel deadpanned: “It’s not because I don’t love you. It’s because I love you more in the majority.”

Dues are frequently a point of contention in the Caucus. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus charge it is more difficult for them to raise funds from their African-American supporters, while others say they prefer to host events for colleagues rather than cutting a check to the DCCC. Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.) came under fire last cycle, when he was Energy and Commerce chairman, for sitting on a pile of cash, and he ultimately succumbed to pressure from the Caucus by exceeding his DCCC goal in the final days before the 2010 midterm elections.

According to the Nov. 4 dues sheet, Waxman, now ranking member on Energy and Commerce, has more than $1 million in cash on hand and has paid $25,000 in dues to the DCCC. He has raised $5,000 for the campaign committee as of Nov. 4.

Other veterans hoarding cash include New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, an Energy and Commerce subcommittee ranking member. He has $3.4 million in cash on hand and has given just $30,000 in dues to the DCCC. Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey, ranking member on the Natural Resources Committee, has raised more than $860,000 this year, has $3.1 million in cash on hand and has given $90,000 toward his $250,000 dues goal.

Leaders haven’t pressed hard yet but are expected to make an end-of-year push to Members and keep on them once election season heats up. “The DCCC is a Member participation organization and we appreciate everything our Members do for us,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in a statement. “We’re off to a strong start and our Members are critical to our success.”

Correction: Nov. 17, 2011

An earlier version of this article misstated how much Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) had paid in dues and raised for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because of an incorrect DCCC dues sheet. Waxman has paid $25,000 in dues to the DCCC, according to federal filings. He has raised, as of Nov. 4, $5,000 for the campaign committee, according to the DCCC.

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