DCCC Sends A Message: If You Want Financial Help, Vote With The Republicans
Yesterday Sam Stein blew the whistle on how the DCCC has "favored" the worst Democrats in Congress. If you're a regular DWT reader you're well aware of the overall narrative: the DCCC recruits and finances conservatives and discourages and starves progressives. We've mentioned it... frequently. In fact, it's gotten even worse since "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel took over the committee and has systematically gone forward institutionalizing a policy Rahm Emanuel put in place in 2006 and that lapsed slightly when Chris Van Hollen ran the show-- but just slightly. Now, however, it's full steam ahead.
Let me share a couple of examples. (This post would never end if I shared all the examples.) On March 20th the big news out of Illinois was that progressive Ilya Sheyman was defeated by garden variety, conservative-leaning, corporate Democrat Brad Schneider. Schneider and 4 other conservative, corporate-leaning Dems were put into the DCCC's Red to Blue program in a matter of hours. The next morning Israel was boasting how they had 5 new candidates-- Tammy Duckworth, Brad Schneider (New Dem), Bill Foster (New Dem), Brad Harriman and Cheri Bustos. He even mentioned that IL-13 was redistricted in a way that would make it much easier for a Democrat to win. But the Democrat that won that night, progressive doctor David Gill, was the only winning candidate not put into the Red to Blue program. He had had the temerity to beat corporate shill and Israel-favored conservative Matthew Goetten. And three months later, David Gill is still not on the Red to Blue list-- even though incumbent Republican Tim Johnson saw the polling numbers and announced he was retiring-- a couple days after he won the Republican primary! Until Joe Walsh destroyed himself Tuesday Dr. Gill's race was probably the surest thing in the state for the DCCC... but Israel would rather see a Republican win than a progressive.
How dare I? Someone's got to tell the truth about what Israel is up to and how he'd rather restock the Democratic caucus with Blue Dogs and New Dems than win back the majority if it means helping to elect progressives. Let take a look at another example-- one down in western North Carolina, NC-10. No one would argue that nasty, extremist, mean-spirited little closet case Patrick McHenry has earned a tough reelection battle but this is another one Israel is ignoring. "Oh," you might say, "he has to pick and chose carefully and decide where to spend DCCC resources where it will do the most good." And that is absolutely true-- and he point of this whole post-- and we'll get to how Steve Israel picks and choses in un momento. Meanwhile, though, let me remind everyone that before the May primary in North Carolina Steve Israel thought enough about the race against McHenry to recruit a candidate to run for the nomination. But instead of picking progressive champion, state Rep. Patsy Keever, he recruited Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy. Problem is that, despite Israel's fantasies about western North Carolina, only Republican voters like candidates like Bellamy, who is anti-Choice, anti-gay, pro-developer and completely unsuitable to go up against McHenry, a corporate shill just like her. But not only did she lose in Asheville, she lost every single one of the seven counties that make up NC-10. That's how inept and clueless Steve Israel is... but inept, clueless and vindictive.
The day after his pathetic candidate lost the primary, he walked away from NC-10. The far more Republican district next door, where anti-Choice, anti-gay, corporate whore Hayden Rogers, a fellow Blue Dog, won the primary, Israel is excited about. Rogers was immediately put on the DCCC's "Emerging Races" list. That's how he rolls-- and that's what he's turned the DCCC into.
The corporate-oriented New Dems-- think Blue Dogs without the KKK regalia-- has endorsed 27 candidates. 8 still have primaries coming up. But of the 19 who will be running in November, the DCCC is pushing every one of them-- and even some who haven't won their primaries yet. And of the mangy 7 Blue Dogs running in November (+ Rob Wallace who still has a primary run-off), the DCCC has embraced all of them. Just what Congress needs, lots more Democrats who are anti-Choice, anti-gay, anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-family... Isn't that what the Republican Party is for?
So, as Sam Stein pointed out yesterday, "the 17 House Democrats who voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt last week have received more than $1.3 million in financial aid from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since the start of 2009, a review of campaign finance records shows. That total constitutes roughly one out of every nine dollars that the committee either spent or earmarked for candidates during that time period."
Of course that isn't half the story. When the DCCC gets behind a candidate, they tell big Democratic donors around the country-- as well as sleazy lobbyists in DC-- that these are the candidates the Democratic Party wants funded... and that other candidates should NOT be given any money.
[W]ith anger mounting among the Democrats over the GOP's treatment of Holder, the money breakdown threatens to re-ignite a long-simmering debate over what type of lawmakers are best suited to fill the party's ranks. The 17 Democrats who voted to hold Holder in contempt for the invoking of executive privilege in the Operation Fast and Furious investigation did so under pressure from the National Rifle Association. Their votes demonstrate the gun lobby's continued power within the halls of Congress, while raising the question of why the DCCC lacks that same institutional clout.
In addition, seven of those 17 Democrats have said they either are skipping the party's convention this summer or remain unsure of their intentions. One member has declined to endorse President Barack Obama's reelection campaign.
"[DCCC Chairman Steve Israel] is spending gargantuan amounts of money and energy on hopeless Blue Dogs ... [rather] than working on winnable campaigns for independent-minded, progressive Democrats," said Howie Klein, the co-founder of Blue America PAC, an organization devoted to promoting progressive candidates. "Those 17 Democrats didn't just suddenly join [Rep. Darrell] Issa's witch hunt and stray from the Democratic fold. All 17-- no exceptions-- are among the Democrats who vote with [Speaker John] Boehner and [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor most frequently for the far right's anti-family agenda."
The vast majority of the support the DCCC offered these members (approximately 95 percent) came in the form of earmarked donations-- money that came from other groups and donors but was solicited by the campaign committee.
"What the DCCC is doing for those candidates is what Act Blue does for other Democrats," explained a prominent campaign finance lawyer who advises congressional candidates. "They are sending out an email saying, 'Here are our top 10 target races. Will you give money to those races?'"
Because the DCCC is thereby prioritizing those races, the lawyer continued, it is fair to categorize an earmarked donation as a form of support from the committee. It's "a conscious decision" to help that candidate.
The extent of that support is disproportionate to the help the DCCC is offering House members and candidates at large. During the same period that the committee funneled $1.3 million to those 17 anti-Holder lawmakers, it sent just over $9.1 million to all House Democratic candidates.
That breakdown may seem counterproductive-- why reward the party's least orthodox members?-- but for party strategists, it reflects a political reality. Those 17 members hail from some of the most closely contested districts in the country, meaning that they, more than their colleagues, need the support.
"The only way you're going to have Congress not bringing up Eric Holder contempt resolutions, [and] instead bringing up middle-class jobs bills, is to have the majority in Democratic control," said a Democratic Hill aide.
Not all of the 17 members received the same level of support:
* Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), who lost his primary bid for reelection, received $17,000-plus in contributions and earmarked donations.
* Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who is not attending the convention, received $13,000-plus.
* Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), who is not seeking reelection in 2012, received just $1,000.
* Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) received $90,200-plus.
* Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) received $60,000-plus.
* Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.), who defeated Altmire in the primary and has said he will not be attending the convention, received more than $300,000, much of it coming during his special election campaign to replace former Rep. John Murtha in 2010.
* Rep. Joseph Donnelly (D-Ind.), who is running for the Senate in Indiana, received $57,000-plus.
* Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) received $54,000-plus, much of which came during her special election campaign to replace Rep. Chris Lee, who resigned.
* Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) received $26,200-plus. He is not attending the convention.
* Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) received more than $110,000. He voted against health care reform, has continued to advocate its repeal and recently said he was unsure about going to the convention.
* Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), who is not attending the convention, received $44,000.
* Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), who has declined to endorse Obama's reelection, received just shy of $60,000.
* Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), who won a special election in 2009 and will not be attending the Democratic convention, received more than $375,000.
* Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), who is also not attending the convention, received more than $10,000.
* Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) received $6,000.
* Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) received more than $65,000.
* The only member for whom there were no records of DCCC financial aid since 2009 is Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).
Peterson doesn't need any help from the DCCC. He's one of the most corrupt Blue Dogs in Congress and takes huge amounts of money from AgriBusiness in return for letting them write all U.S. agricultural and food policies. Collin Peterson is literally killing this country. I could have helped Sam with his story with tidbits like this on every member he mentioned. In fact, when he asked me for the quote, I asked him if it could be 5 pages long.
Here's an interesting interactive map we need to look at together in a few days. He tells a lot of how Israel plans to make the DCCC into the BDCCC, the Blue Dog Congressional Campaign Committee. And if you get a plea for cash from some outfit called the House Majority PAC, that's the DCCC too. They just know how muddied their name is so they're trying to reach voters under another guise. The House Majority PAC, for example, financed ConservaDem Ron Barber's win in Arizona to the tune of around $700,000, only to smile when Barber voted to gut a package of crucial environmental laws, announced he won't commit to voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and then voted to join Darrell Issa's witch hunt against Eric Holder. If you want to contribute to the DCCC, at least be aware what you're throwing your money away on. And if you'd like to support progressive Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt type Democrats, like David Gill and Patsy Keever, mentioned above, you can do it directly through ActBlue, where the DCCC doesn't rake off a cut for themselves.