Committees Cut Campaign Debt

Posted February 19, 2007 at 1:39pm

Both House campaign committees worked aggressively in January to retire their debts, with Members playing a large role in helping their parties alleviate the financial hangover from the 2006 election cycle.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which ended last year with far more debt than its three counterparts, paid down an estimated $3.5 million of the $14.4 million debt the committee showed as of Dec. 31. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid down at least $2 million of its $9.3 million debt last month.

The party campaign committees will file January fundraising reports today with the Federal Election Commission — the first to reflect fundraising activity since the Democrats took control of Congress.

An NRCC spokeswoman credited Members with rising to the occasion by donating the bulk of the $3.5 million from their personal campaign accounts or political action committees.

“It really shows how invested they are in the committee and optimistic they are about taking back the majority,” said NRCC spokeswoman Jessica Boulanger.

Earlier this year, NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) tapped Reps. Phil English (Pa.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas) and Patrick McHenry (N.C.) to lead the House Republicans’ debt retirement effort.

As of Dec. 31, the NRCC showed $6.4 million in vendor debt and an additional $9 million in bank loans.

“We’ve continued to focus on it and will continue to until it’s fully retired,” Boulanger said of the debt total.

The NRCC’s annual fundraising dinner will be held next month and is being chaired by House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and co-chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.). Headlined by President Bush, it is expected to raise $6 million.

At the DCCC, Member dues also accounted for much of the debt payment.

“We’re aggressively paying down the debt,” said DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.

House Democrats, who picked up 30 seats in November to win control of the chamber for the first time in 12 years, are far ahead of their debt-retirement pace of the previous cycle. The committee began 2005 with more than $10 million in debts and obligations and did not fully pay off that sum until well into 2006.

The NRCC took out a $3 million loan in the 2004 cycle and eliminated its debt fairly early in 2005.

On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ended last year with $6.6 million in arrears. On Friday, a committee spokesman did not have an estimate for how much of that sum was paid off in January. As of Dec. 31, the DSCC had $63,000 in cash on hand, the least available of the four Congressional campaign committees.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee showed $1.3 million in debt at the end of December and paid down only a sliver of that total in January. The committee ended December with $110,000 in the bank.