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Colleagues Petition for Retirees’ Funds

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (above) confirmed that Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel has already asked him about the $186,000 he reported in the bank at the end of December.

After a House Member announces retirement, there's often one lingering question from their colleagues:

What's going to happen to the rest of their campaign cash?

There is more than $7.6 million in the combined bank accounts of the 19 House Members who have thus far announced their retirements. That sum will only grow as more Members call it quits in the coming weeks.

Campaign finance laws allow retiring Members to donate their funds to charity, give to their colleagues' re-election campaigns, or save it for a future run for office. But the party committees are typically among the first to ask for financial help from Members before they exit the halls of Congress for good.

"Who hasn't asked?" retiring Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) said last week.

Gonzalez confirmed that Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) has already asked him about the $186,000 he reported in the bank at the end of December.

"Steve was super-aggressive about trying to get dues and such before I announced my retirement, and so it's expected that he will continue to be asking," Gonzalez added. "I'm hoping to be helpful."

So far, Israel's fundraising efforts have produced mixed success among his retiring colleagues, according to a copy of the DCCC's dues tally obtained by Roll Call. As of Jan. 31, only five of the 12 House Democrats who have announced their retirements had transferred funds to the DCCC.

Retiring Democratic Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), Dale Kildee (Mich.), Maurice Hinchey (N.Y.), Brad Miller (N.C.), Mike Ross (Ark.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.) have transferred none of their remaining campaign funds to the DCCC, according to the dues report. But a few of those Democrats have raised money directly for the DCCC, such as Boren, who brought in $132,000 for the committee this cycle.

Other retiring House Democrats have been even more generous. Since their departure announcements, Barney Frank (Mass.) transferred $250,000, Jerry Costello (Ill.) transferred $150,000, and John Olver (Mass.) transferred $170,000 to the DCCC.

"The DCCC is a Member participation organization and we appreciate everything our Members do for us," DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson said. "The DCCC is off to a strong start this cycle, and our Members are critical to our success."

The 12 House Democrats who have announced their retirements and who have no plans to run for other office reported a combined $4.2 million in cash on hand, but the size of the retirees' bank accounts vary greatly. Kildee had a paltry $34,000 on hand as of Dec. 31, but Costello reported a whopping $2 million in the bank at the same time.

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