DSCC Blasts Lobbyists but Still Wants Their Cash

Posted February 9, 2010 at 11:37am

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee apparently is smacking lobbyists with its left hand this cycle while accepting their campaign contributions with its right, according to a recent fundraising pitch.

In a Feb. 5 e-mail, DSCC Executive Director J.B. Poersch tells supporters that five top Republican Senate recruits “either currently are or have been lobbyists”: former Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, former Florida Speaker Marco Rubio, former Rep. Rob Portman (Ohio) and ex-Sen. Dan Coats (Ind.).

“One egregious example: Coats, who wants to represent Indiana in the United States Senate, lobbied for an oil and gas company that partners with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez,” Poersch wrote. “For all the crowing R’s do about special interests corrupting Washington, they sure don’t seem to be doing anything about it. Quite the opposite, it seems.”

The DSCC e-mail also details the $2.8 million in campaign contributions from financial-services, insurance and real estate interests apparently received by Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), who recently won the GOP nomination in the Land of Lincoln’s open Senate race to replace retiring Sen. Roland Burris (D). The e-mail also claims Kirk has “taken $501,000 from their political action committees.”

“We have a great group of candidates, but we need your help to get them elected. Please make a donation to the DSCC today,” the e-mail concluded. “Your contribution will build winning campaigns, fight each and every Republican smear and get Democrats to the polls on Election Day.”

But the DSCC’s own hands are hardly clean of downtown money. Despite all of its K Street bashing, Poersch’s committee continues to finance a substantial portion of its budget though lobbyist donations – more than 10 percent by one count done by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

DSCC spokeswoman Deirdre Murphy confirmed on Monday that the committee continues to accept campaign contributions this cycle from influence peddlers, a policy that has divided the Democratic Party in recent years.

President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee both famously agreed not to take money from federal lobbyists in the 2008 cycle, and the DNC has pledged to stick by the policy this go-around.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, lobbyists, PACs and corporate executives continue to fill the DSCC’s coffers at a brisk clip. Of the roughly $44 million raised by the DSCC this cycle, $5.3 million came from self-identified lobbyists and lawyers, while the financial-services, insurance and real estate sectors wrote checks totaling $6.1 million.

Since 2009, the DSCC has also accepted $2.4 million contributions from the health care industry, $2.2 million from telecommunications and electronics interests, $900,000 from energy concerns and $2.1 million from Members and their political committees.

The DSCC also took in more than $14 million last cycle from lobbyists and lawyers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

In an e-mail Monday, Murphy claimed that the point of Poersch’s e-mail three days earlier was not to curry favor with some donors by beating up on lobbyists but to criticize Republicans for recruiting lobbyists for Senate contests.

“The point here is that Republicans like to pretend they are outsiders but they continue to reach for ultimate insiders like Rob Portman and Dan Coats who have made their careers standing up for the special interests,” she wrote. “National Republicans can’t make the change argument if their top candidates are the very insiders who got us in this economic mess in the first place.”