House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who once joked that fellow California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was on the Kremlin’s payroll, will headline a fundraiser for the embattled congressman this weekend.
An invitation reviewed by McClatchy showed the $2,700 per person event will take place on Sunday.
A recording of discussions between House Republican leaders last year released in May revealed McCarthy saying, “There’s two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” McCarthy later said he was joking.
Rohrabacher, who represents California’s 48th District, has gained the epithet “Putin’s favorite congressman” because of his speaking approvingly of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The fundraiser also comes amid a report by the Daily Beast that Rohrabacher supposedly got directions from Moscow to stage a show trial of a critic of Vladimir Putin.
Subsequently, The Atlantic reported that his staff director on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe had been ousted.
Rohrabacher’s district is a top target for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It was one of 23 that voted for a Republican representative but were carried by Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Republican.
So far, Rohrabacher has seven Democratic challengers. One of them, Harley Rouda, announced Monday that he had raised $319,334.
Rouda said that amount was more than the fundraising totals of the other Democrats in the race combined. But challenger Hans Keirstead, a cancer and stem cell researcher, disputed that assertion.
“Hans actually out-raised the entire primary field, including Harley Rouda even though he had just two weeks to fund raise from June 15th to June 30th when the quarter ended,” Keirstead campaign manager Kyle Quinn-Quesada said in an email.