By Josh Lederman - 03/22/12 09:00 AM EDT
House Democrats who don’t pay their party dues could be out on the streets at the party’s convention this August in Charlotte, N.C.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) warned lawmakers Wednesday they won’t be guaranteed a hotel room at the Charlotte convention — where hotel space is expected to be tight — unless they pay their required dues.
The email encourages aides to call the DCCC within two weeks to work out a payment plan “to get your boss to their 2011-2012 cycle goal and to the convention.” Otherwise, the letter says, the committee won’t be able to guarantee hotel rooms for members.
The email was sent on Wednesday, the same day a report by The Hill revealed that many senior House Democrats haven’t paid what they owe to their party’s campaign arm.
More than one-third of House Democrats have given nothing so far this cycle to the DCCC, according to documents obtained by The Hill, including five ranking members and one chief deputy whip. Dozens of others have given a fraction of what they are expected to have chipped in more than halfway through the cycle.
Persuading members to cough up their hard-earned campaign cash to the committee is an age-old problem for both parties. It’s also no secret that special convention packages — including prime hotel assignments, extra floor passes and special-event invitations — are offered to lawmakers who fulfill their dues obligations. But the DCCC has not publicly acknowledged that members could find themselves with no hotel at all if they don’t contribute by a specific deadline.
One House Democratic aide said the same tactic had been used previously, and that it could be more effective than one might expect.
“You’d think members of Congress, who appropriate billions of dollars and authorize sweeping legislation, would understand they’re powerful individuals and be content with that,” said the aide. “It’s amazing to me how much they care about these little perks that aren’t that big of a deal. But they mean a whole lot to certain members.”
One fundraiser for House Democrats observed that the DCCC letter said hotel rooms were in short supply, suggesting that if all members meet their obligations, the party could run out of rooms.
“You don’t choose a location like that and not calculate most of your caucus coming,” said the fundraiser.
“They’re all superdelegates too, remember,” he added. “I don’t know how far you can really push that.”
The DCCC declined requests for comment.