Get-Tough Threats on Dues Working

Posted July 20, 2005 at 6:19pm

Just three weeks after Democratic leaders vowed to strip benefits from Members who failed to pay party dues, about a dozen one-time deadbeats have opened up their checkbooks with nearly $250,000, sources said.

“It’s more than working,” Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Wednesday.

Emanuel, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other leaders, issued a stern letter to Members on June 29, outlining the newly raised stakes for failing to ante up DCCC dues. At that time, about half of the 202 House Democrats had not met any of their two-year dues requirements.

The leadership threat was the first of its kind. In the past, House Democratic leaders relied almost exclusively on peer pressure to raise the money.

Sources said that while leaders are pleased that Members are starting to come through, not everyone has settled their accounts — and those who haven’t are already being denied DCCC offerings, such as telephones for fundraising, computers and office space. One Democratic source said that “a few” Members have lost benefits, but declined to provide specifics.

Emanuel said he plans to issue another “correspondence” to Members on the topic shortly. Sources said that the letter, to be addressed to the entire caucus, will go out by the end of the week and will remind Members of what they owe and how much they have paid to date.

The Democratic leadership aide said it takes both “the carrot and the stick” to convince Members to give.

“By and large, people are getting the message that they need to pay,” said the staffer. “It’s important to the leadership, but it’s also important to entire party. We want to take back House, and this is one of things we need to do.”