House Leaders Top Senate Leaders in Early PAC Giving

Posted August 1, 2009 at 10:02am

House leaders from both parties were more active in doling out contributions from their leadership political action committees than their Senate counterparts in the first six months of the 2010 cycle, according to reports recently filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was the only leader in the Senate to break the six figure mark for contributions made to federal candidates and committees from January to June. Meanwhile, the top four House leaders checked in with well more than $100,000 in contributions, with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) leading the way with $500,000 in donations from his AmeriPAC.

Unlike candidate fundraising committees, which are required to report every quarter, Members can choose their reporting frequency when it comes to their leadership PACs. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), for example, submits monthly PAC reports, while Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) decided earlier this year to file semi-annual reports for his Prairie PAC. As such, mid-year reports offer the first opportunity to compare the activities of various leadership PACs.

House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) Freedom Project PAC checked in with the lowest contribution total of the four House leaders, but it still made $198,000 in donations to federal candidates and committees from January 1 to June 30.

Cantor almost doubled Boehner’s contribution total with about $393,000 in donations from his Every Republican is Crucial (ERIC) PAC during the first six months of 2009.Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doled out $249,000 to federal candidates and committees from her PAC to the Future.

Not all the money that Members raise for their PACs is spent on contributions. For example, Hoyer, Boehner and Cantor all reported close to $300,000 in PAC operating expenses from January to June. PAC to the future reported just $67,000 in operating expenses through June.

The Speaker’s PAC raised $299,000 and ended last month with about $43,000 cash on hand.

During the first six months of the year, Hoyer raised about $561,000 for AmeriPAC and ended June with about $886,000 cash on hand. Boehner raised a little more than $725,000 and had $289,000 cash on hand at the end of the reporting period. Cantor raised $856,000 in the first half of 2009 and ended last month with about $267,000 cash on hand.

On the Senate side, the two Republican leaders’ PACs outperformed their Democratic counterparts.

McConnell’s $185,000 in contributions from his Bluegrass Committee PAC was tops among all Senators whose mid-year reports had been filed as of Friday afternoon. In June, the Minority Leader gave $10,000 of that total to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), the party’s highly touted recruit in the Sunshine State’s open-seat Senate race. Crist faces a primary against former state Speaker Marco Rubio.

McConnell’s PAC raised $360,000 from January to June and had just under $527,000 cash on hand at the end of last month.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) Senate Majority Fund PAC raised $358,000, contributed $75,000 to federal candidates and committees and ended June with $365,000 cash on hand.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — who is up for re-election in 2010 and is a top target of national Republicans — raised the lowest amount of any leader in either chamber. Reid reported just less than $119,000 in receipts for his Searchlight Leadership PAC in six months. Reid distributed just $55,000 to federal candidates and committees during that same time frame, with $10,000 going to recently converted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter’s (Pa.) campaign account in May and June. Reid’s PAC ended June with about $140,000 cash on hand.

Durbin raised $120,000, contributed $96,000 and ended June with about $66,000 cash on hand. Durbin gave Reid’s campaign committee $10,000 in March and Specter’s campaign committee $5,000 in June.

Members can also contribute to their colleagues and candidates through their individual campaign accounts, however federal contribution limits are higher for PACs.