Pyrrhic Victory

Posted May 20, 2008 at 6:45pm

The National Republican Senatorial Committee narrowly outraised the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last month, putting away roughly $4.33 million compared with its Democratic counterparts’ $4.18 million haul, according to reports made available to Roll Call ahead of Tuesday’s filing deadline.

[IMGCAP(1)]On April 30, the NRSC was still far behind with $19.37 million in the bank after spending $2.3 million during April. The DSCC had $37.6 million in cash after paying out $4.46 million.

“We made investments in 16 states this month as we ramp up the field programs that delivered victories in close states last cycle — even with those investments, which Republicans aren’t making, we still hold a 2-1 cash on hand advantage,” DSCC spokesman Matthew Miller wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee declined to provide its fundraising numbers ahead of Tuesday’s midnight deadline, but the embattled National Republican Congressional Committee said it had raised $4.25 million in April, ending the month with $6.7 million in cash — roughly the same as on April 1. The total is much less than House Democrats were expected to report before Wednesday.

The DCCC had $44.32 million on hand at the close of March.

Price of Freedom. A Washington state eBay merchant put his Nov. 4 ballot on the online auction block last week, a sale that appears to have been quickly removed by the Web site.

“I have become convinced that my federally protected right to vote is void, or diminished to the point that it is void for all intents and purposes,” Christopher Fossedal wrote in a description of his item, “My Vote.” “All of the polling sites in my state have been abolished and replaced by a mail-in system.”

“Also, since all elections are electronically monitored and tallied, there is much mystery surrounding the nature and intent of those people who manage and maintain the infrastructures involved in our false election process,” he continued.

Fossedal, whose contact information has since been taken down by eBay, said on the Web site that he was selling his vote in “political protest” — and because he really needed the money.

Erika Buder, a spokeswoman for eBay, said the company removed the listing because such a sale would be illegal.

Fossedal started the bidding at $20.

Open the Floodgates. The Missouri GOP-held Legislature approved a late-session measure last week lifting all campaign contribution limits for gubernatorial races and state House and state Senate contests.

Should Gov. Matt Blunt (R) sign the bill, the Show Me State’s new law would remove a cap on individual and corporate gifts that was reinstituted by the state Supreme Court last year.

Democrats say the new law, which would take effect Aug. 28, may give Rep. Kenny Hulshof and other Republican gubernatorial candidates who are currently battling ahead of the state’s Aug. 19 primary 11th-hour help against Democrats.

Hulshof is locked in a tough primary race with state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R). The winner will take on well-financed Attorney General Jay Nixon (D) in November.

“Nixon has more money than both of them combined,” Missouri Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti said. Whoever wins the GOP primary “is going to be dead broke and they’ll need that law to kick in.

“A lot of this is strictly incumbent protection,” Cardetti continued. “They have the majorities in the House and Senate. … Democrats have been making gains and are poised for a good year this year, and the one advantage even unpopular incumbents have: They can raise money.”

But Republicans countered that the new law would introduce increased disclosure to political fundraising, and they criticized Democrats for for being hypocritical.

Roll Call reported last year that Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and other lawmakers had taken advantage of a Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act loophole that allows federal lawmakers to adhere to more liberal campaign finance laws while running for state and local offices.

In McCaskill’s case, she passed the hat last year in trying to pay down a personal debt from her 2004 gubernatorial loss to Blunt, a tactic that the Federal Election Commission signed off on.

Still, state Republicans took umbrage with McCaskill’s reported criticism of the bill that now awaits Blunt’s signature.

“It is highly hypocritical for Sen. McCaskill who manipulated federal campaign finance laws so special interests could pay off her $1.6 million state campaign debt to say that supporters of the new legislation plan ‘to sell government to the highest bidder,’” said Tina Hervey, a Missouri Republican Party spokeswoman, in a statement. “As the only Senator in Washington, D.C., who was allowed for a time to accept unlimited contributions, Sen. McCaskill’s outrage is laughable.”

Submit items of interest on money in politics here
.