DCCC May Honor More Than Money

Posted February 8, 2008 at 6:41pm

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is mulling changes to its bookkeeping that would acknowledge Members for contributions beyond their fundraising prowess, and officials could implement a new accounting system in the coming months.

DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said discussions are under way to amend the committee’s current financial structure, which tracks only Member-paid dues — amounts vary depending on leadership posts, chairmanships and committee assignments — and contributions to the campaign committee.

“We intend to develop a system that gives people credit for helping with our ‘Frontline’ members and ‘Red-to-Blue’ program,” Van Hollen said late last week, referring to fundraising programs aimed at aiding vulnerable incumbents and would-be Members in competitive districts, respectively.

Van Hollen emphasized that any changes to the system would not undermine current practices, saying: “This is not going to be a replacement … it will be supplemental.”

Although he said the additional accounting measures would go into effect during the current cycle, Van Hollen declined to detail how the program would be altered or what activities, such as travel costs, would be included.

“It’s still a work in progress,” he said.

Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) prompted discussion of the proposed changes last fall, asserting that Members should be acknowledged for their actions as well as their fundraising abilities.

“My proposal had to do with placing value on contributions other than check-writing,” Clyburn said Friday. He added that although he has discussed the issue with Van Hollen, he has not been actively involved in negotiations on the new program, but said: “I’m told they are nearing some recommendations and I look forward to seeing them.”

Among his recommendations, Clyburn suggested Members receive “credits” for visits on behalf of candidates or incumbent lawmakers, including costs associated with travel, which Members often pay out of their own pockets or campaign funds.

Clyburn, who also serves as a DCCC vice chairman, said he has received positive feedback from rank-and-file lawmakers since publicly unveiling his proposal.

“A Member like myself, I come from a district that is one of the poorest in the nation, and [it is] the same for a lot of other people in the Caucus, and it is tough for a lot of people” to write sizable checks, Clyburn said. “They have other skills, and I think those skills ought to be honored and recognized.”

A senior Democratic aide familiar with the proposal to change the accounting procedures, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the overhaul also is an effort by Democratic leaders to mend ties with the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which strained under the at-times abrasive leadership style of previous DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.).

Clyburn previously has suggested that Members be credited not only for campaign events but also for their outreach to local organizations, citing for example that CBC members often are invited to serve as keynote speakers at local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter events.