DCCC Cash Advantage Grew in June

Posted July 21, 2008 at 6:24pm

House Democrats continued to grow their financial lead over their GOP counterparts in June, according to fundraising reports filed over the weekend.

On the heels of that news, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee placed a second round of early TV ad buys in 20 districts featuring competitive races. The buy is worth $17.6 million overall, according to a list obtained by Roll Call of media markets purchased.

Meanwhile, in one bright spot for the House GOP, the National Republican Congressional Committee appears to be about six weeks away from qualifying for a bank loan, with the Austin, Texas-based accounting firm Lockart, Atchley & Associates having begun a formal audit of the GOP committee’s books last week.

The NRCC will need to borrow money down the stretch of the fall campaign to help equalize its large cash disparity with the DCCC. The formal audit was delayed pending the recently completed forensic audit of the NRCC’s finances that was conducted as a result of an embezzlement scandal.

“We don’t anticipate having any problem getting the line of credit that we think we’ll need,” Rep. Mike Conaway (Texas), chairman of the NRCC’s audit committee, said Monday in an interview.

Conaway, a certified public accountant, said he hopes to have the audit completed by early September, when Congress is scheduled to return from the August recess.

Aside from the FBI’s continuing investigation, Conaway sees the formal audit of the NRCC’s books as the last major step in the committee’s recovery from the alleged embezzlement of at least $725,000 over several election cycles by former committee Treasurer Christopher Ward.

As of the end of June, the DCCC had more than $54.6 million in the bank compared with almost $8.5 million on hand for the NRCC.

The DCCC raised $10 million in June, $3.8 million of which came from Members’ re-election and political action committee accounts. The committee spent close to $2.6 million, new monthly reports filed with the Federal Election Commission showed.

Overall, the DCCC raised $41.2 million in the first six months of this year.

The NRCC, which is defending 23 open House seats in November and faces a playing field and national political environment that is tilted toward Democrats, raised close to $6.1 million last month and spent more than $4.2 million.

The committee paid $26,700 in legal fees to Covington & Burling, the firm that helped the committee through the forensic audit process.

Earlier this month, the DCCC made an initial round of TV ad buys for the fall campaign worth $35 million. The second round includes reserving more than $2 million in ad time in the media markets covering two open seats in New York plus the district of Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.) as well as more than $2 million in California, where the party is targeting a GOP open seat and defending Rep. Jerry McNerney (D).

The DCCC also reserved more than $1 million in ad time targeting three GOP Members in South Florida and more than $1 million each in the districts of special election winners Travis Childers (D-Miss.) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.).

Meanwhile, with more than a 6-1 cash-on-hand advantage four months before Election Day, DCCC officials revealed details Monday of what they described as an unprecedented voter-contact effort.

The DCCC plans to target 50 districts with a voter persuasion and get-out-the-vote campaign. Officials declined to provide details on which districts would be targeted, though it is likely to be those featuring the most competitive races. The effort is being overseen by a staff of seven people. Last cycle, just one committee staffer was devoted to GOTV and the effort focused on 35 districts.

The committee has already spent $9 million — the total budget for GOTV in the 2006 cycle — and contacted 2 million voters. Committee officials said they are on track to eventually reach 13 million people before Election Day.

The DCCC tested the GOTV program in the three special elections earlier this year where Democrats won seats that previously had been held by Republicans.

“The DCCC is committed to reaching voters across the country with our message of change and has begun contacting voters earlier than ever before,” DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said. “By starting earlier, Democrats are reaching voters that are not yet being fully bombarded by political messages, which we know from our three special election wins is critical to our success.”