Every candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee in an increasingly crowded field is arguing he or she can raise large amounts of money. But it’s Maria Cino who has given her own money to a number of Congressional candidates over the past two election cycles, more than any of her rivals for the RNC spot.
Federal Election Commission records for the six known candidates bidding to win the Jan. 14 RNC election show Cino donated the most and most often.
The primary job of the RNC chairman is raising money to help state parties, campaign committees and candidates finance their efforts. One of the central criticisms of Chairman Michael Steele is that he hadn’t raised enough and mismanaged the money he did raise, causing major donors not to trust the committee and ultimately to take their dollars to other committees or outside groups. Gentry Collins wrote a letter detailing the fundraising complaints when he stepped down as the RNC’s political director in November.
“During the 2010 cycle, the RNC allowed its major donor base to wither,” wrote Collins, who is running for chairman. “In the last two non-presidential cycles of 2002 and 2006, the RNC raised $284 million and $243 million respectively. So far this cycle, the RNC has reported raising just $170 million. Less than $18 million (10.53%) of that total came from contributions of $1,000 or more, collected from a mere 5,379 donors.”
Cino, a New York native, differs from the other candidates for the job in that she has been both a fundraiser and a donor. Cino has held a number of political and corporate leadership positions over the past couple of decades, including at the RNC and the National Republican Congressional Committee. She served as CEO of the Republican National Convention in Minnesota during the 2008 election cycle, and more recently she has been a registered lobbyist for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
In the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, Cino gave a total of $14.500 to 16 Congressional candidates, two political action committees and the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). Though she spread out much of her giving in amounts of $250 and $500, she did give to Senate challengers in the 2010 cycle, including $1,250 to Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, and $1,000 each to Reps. John Boozman in Arkansas and Mike Castle in Delaware and Jane Norton in Colorado. She also gave $500 each to Roy Blunt in Missouri and Todd Tiahrt in Kansas. Castle, Norton and Tiahrt lost their primaries, but Ayotte, Boozman and Blunt will be sworn in to the Senate in January. During the 2008 cycle, she gave $1,000 to Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and $1,500 to McCain. Her biggest donation was $2,500 given to Pfizer Inc. PAC in 2009.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.