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Campaign Fundraisers in D.C. Continue Despite Recess

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Todd Akin and others have returned to Washington, D.C., during the Congressional recess to hit up lobbyists and political action committees for contributions.

Rep. Todd Akin's quest for a Senate seat took him about 900 miles from Missouri this week for a visit to K Street.

The Republican candidate's swing through Washington, D.C., where his campaign hit up lobbyists and political action committees for contributions, is hardly unique. After Congress all but shut down last month so Members could campaign in their states and districts, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle reappeared this week for refueling.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) held his annual Maker's Mark Tasting and Bottle Dipping on Monday at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) was in D.C. for a Tuesday fundraiser. Ditto for Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

Members who represent areas near D.C. are also mingling with the K Street crowd. The National Association of Realtors planned an event this morning with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

"If you're running for office, this is one of the money centers," Democratic lobbyist and high-dollar donor Steve Elmendorf said. "It never stops. People raise money all year round all the time."

Many of the October fundraisers were scheduled before Congress recessed because the House and Senate were expected to work until Columbus Day.

Akin, whose campaign aides did not respond to a request for comment, booked multiple D.C. events, including a Wednesday luncheon co-hosted by former aide Tom Carpenter, now a lobbyist at Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates.

The Congressman is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, but he has had a difficult time raising campaign money because many GOP insiders have distanced themselves following Akin's comments about "legitimate rape." McCaskill said Wednesday that her campaign brought in nearly $6 million in the third quarter.

"We feel like our support is starting to come back," said Carpenter, whose event included GOP Sens. Tom Coburn and James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as honorary hosts.

Those Senators gave money and lent their names but did not appear at the luncheon. "We're hopeful other Senators will come back on board," Carpenter said.

The Sunlight Foundation's Kathy Kiely said the return of many politicians seeking D.C. cash during the recess shows the importance of big money in politics, especially with the price tag for the 2012 elections being one for the record books.

"What it's saying is essentially those campaign dollars are more significant than the hands you would shake or the people you would meet on a day out on the campaign trail," she said. "For Akin, he needs the money, and he feels he can use that money to reach more voters."

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