House Republicans grumble about public airing of party dues

Some House Republicans are unhappy they’ve been called out for not meeting their party fundraising obligations and have indicated they have no plans to cut checks any time soon. 

Reps. Steve King (Iowa), Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), Joe Wilson (S.C.) and Ron Paul (Texas) are among a group who owe more than $1 million in dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Their names appeared in reports last month detailing the committee's outstanding contributions, which sources confirm exceed $2 million.

Democrats routinely use public naming-and-shaming to stoke their members' generosity, but Republican House leaders have typically twisted arms behind the scenes. In this instance, going public appears to have done little to inspire the delinquent GOP members to pay their outstanding dues.

"I just shrug my shoulders and think, I've got my job to do, and they probably don't understand my overall mission. If they did, things would go a lot easier in here," King, who has $195,000 in outstanding dues, told The Hill.

Members are required to contribute to the campaign committee on a sliding scale based on seniority and their position within the caucus. But Paul, an 11-term representative, said he was confused to learn he was $325,000 in arrears. 

"I didn't know there was such a thing as dues," the Texan said. "I don't know anything about it."

McCotter, meanwhile, said he was "fascinated with the arbitrariness of the number" he reportedly owes the committee. According to a GOP source, the five-term Republican owes $475,000 in back dues. 

"It's not like I invoiced them for the $3 million I saved them from having to spend of my race [last year]," said the Michigan Republican.

McCotter has not paid the NRCC the remainder of the dues he owes and sounded like he wasn't losing sleep over it. "I'm under no contractual obligation with the NRCC," he said.

Wilson said he was forced to spend heavily on his tougher-than-usual reelection campaign last year, which caused him to fall behind on his dues. "I'm a team player, and I want to support the team," he said "But my way of supporting the team was to be reelected."

Wilson added that he fully intends to meet his $191,000 outstanding obligation to the NRCC. "Last year, I truly was under the gun," said Wilson.

But King sounded less inclined to hand a slice of his campaign war chest over to the NRCC.

"My job is to try to convince them what the mission is," the Iowa Republican said. "I'll do the things that advance the principals that I came here to do. And if that means that I put my own reelection at risk in order to satisfy somebody that leaks to the press that would be foolish of me. 

"Leaks out of there are not conducive to a constructive result," King added. "It may or may not be intentionally and willfully leaking. If I find anybody in my shop that does things like that, then they would be dismissed."

One member who was named last month, Rep. Peter King (N.Y.), did pay the $40,000 he owed the committee, according to a GOP source.

Meanwhile, Wilson said he wasn't bothered by having his obligations made public, noting that the NRCC lists its members fundraising goals on a large board in the committee's offices. Those with outstanding dues are clearly marked in red.

"It's practically public information anyway," he said. "Anyone who goes in there can see it."