Nation: Boehner, Leaders Setting Up Rump NRCC Group

Posted May 7, 2008 at 6:37pm

The top Republican in the House has added an extra layer of leadership to help guide the party’s effort to pick up seats in November and support the beleaguered National Republican Congressional Committee.

The group, spearheaded by Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) along with NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) and made up exclusively of Members who already sit on the NRCC’s Executive Committee, will meet every two weeks or as needed to discuss political strategy and coordinate fundraising efforts. The first meeting is today.

Even though the announcement comes on the heels of Republicans’ special election loss Saturday in Louisiana and growing concern another loss is on the horizon in a Mississippi special election next week, a spokesman for Boehner said he and Cole had been discussing the idea for some weeks and that it was not a reaction to recent events.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said the effort is focused on better coordination and “bringing folks together to make sure we’re doing everything we can to elect House Republicans.”

Aside from Boehner and Cole, 10 Members have been tapped for the effort, including retiring Rep. Tom Davis (Va.), a former NRCC chairman.

Other Members involved are: Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Darrell Issa (Calif.), John Kline (Minn.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), Candice Miller (Mich.), Devin Nunes (Calif.), and Patrick Tiberi (Ohio).

Boehner and Cole have clashed over strategy and management of the committee, which began the cycle deeply in debt and has been hamstrung by a mounting financial disadvantage. The two had their differences aired publicly last fall when the Minority Leader demanded that Cole make top staff changes at the committee and Cole balked at the suggestion.

Since that time, the two have said that the entire leadership team continues to share a good working relationship focused on the singular goal of winning back the House majority. Still, an internal debate persists over who will bear the brunt of the blame if Republicans suffer major losses at the polls.

— Lauren W. Whittington

Freedom’s Watch Gets Hit Again by DCCC

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is accusing Freedom’s Watch of failing to disclose more than $600,000 worth of television ads in Louisiana and Mississippi special elections.

In a Federal Election Commission complaint filed Wednesday, the DCCC alleges that the outside conservative group “aired multiple electioneering communications without filing reports with the commission,” specifically television spots starting April 22 and April 29 that “clearly identified, and advocated the defeat,” of now-Rep. Don Cazayoux (D-La.).

Cazayoux defeated ex-state Rep. Woody Jenkins (R) last Saturday in a special election to replace retired Rep. Richard Baker (R).

The DCCC also alleges a similar misdeed by Freedom’s Watch in neighboring Mississippi, where “on May 2nd, Freedom’s Watch began to air a television advertisement that clearly identified, and advocates the defeat of, Congressional candidate Travis Childers (D).”

Childers, a Prentiss County chancery clerk, will square off May 13 with Southaven Mayor Greg Davis (R) to fill the seat of now-Sen. Roger Wicker (R).

The complaint filed Wednesday marks the fourth time in a month the DCCC has asked federal regulators to investigate the activities of Freedom’s Watch, a “social welfare” organization that files under Section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code.

In a statement, Freedom’s Watch said it has complied with all FEC filing requirements.

— Matthew Murray