The chief of staff for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (above) is among the Senate Democratic chiefs who are using professional fundraisers to make their calls for cash for the DSCC.
“I think the idea that the staff is involved in fundraising or certainly attending political events on their own time is inherent in the job,” said Ken Gross, an attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
“If somebody who is an important staffer asks for money, on their own time, it’s not much different than the candidate themselves dialing for dollars,” Gross added.
Congressional aides face the same restrictions that Members do when fundraising, Gross said, which includes prohibitions against giving the appearance that donors receive special treatment or access, or linking contributions to official acts.
But attorney Elliot Berke, co-chairman of McGuireWood’s political law group, warned that staffers must be careful not to suggest the events give donors special access to an “official staffer.”
“It’s certainly common practice for official staff to volunteer on campaigns, but if you’re holding yourself in your official capacity for a campaign event you need to be careful not to create the wrong impression,” Berke said.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.