Candidates ask lobbyists for fundraising help

A number of candidates facing tough re-election bids are turning to K Street for fundraising help.

July 15 was the first time that candidates’ political committees had to detail to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) the lobbyists and companies registered to lobby that have been bundling for them — collecting checks for campaign donations to give to the politicians. Reports have begun to trickle into the election watchdog agency this week, which are required under the ethics law that Congress passed in September 2007.  

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In the new reports, several prominent congressional leaders in the House and the Senate have listed lobbyists as bundlers for them, bringing in tens of thousands of dollars from their networks for the lawmakers.

For example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) listed many lobbyist fundraisers on his report to the FEC. Bundlers raised more than $110,000 for his campaign committee, Friends of Harry Reid, this past quarter.

Lobbyists helping Reid included Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group who collected $18,700 in campaign contributions for Reid this past quarter. In addition, Emanuel Rouvelas of K&L Gates bundled $19,000 for the Nevada Democrat. And William Singer of Kirkland and Ellis fundraised $39,750 for Reid.

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D), who is vying for a Senate seat in Florida, also found some fundraising help from lobbyists. Clifton Porter, a lobbyist for HCR Manor Care, a nursing home company, collected $19,000 in checks for Meek this past quarter.

Senators not running for reelection in 2010 have taken in bundled contributions this past quarter from lobbyists as well.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) received $17,500 in political contributions that were collected by Melinda Maxfield, an associate at Williams & Jensen and a former deputy finance director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Thomas Fise with the American College of Gastroenterology bundled donations worth $23,500 for Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

Also, a number of powerful Democratic committee chairmen found help from K Street in fundraising this quarter, according to the reports on file with the FEC.

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, collected more than $45,000 in campaign contributions this past quarter that were bundled by a pair of lobbyists for the National Music Publishers Association — David Israelite and Berkley Schwarz.

The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), collected close to $100,000 in bundled donations from political action committees (PAC) from firms that lobby.

PACs for Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld and Arnold & Porter collected more than $40,000 in campaign contributions for Waxman. Further, the PACs for the National Community Pharmacists Association and PG&E Corporation, an energy company, fundraised about $55,000 for the California Democrat.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) also had lobbyists bundle political contributions for him. Robert Raben of the Raben Group collected $27,900 in donations for the House Financial Services Committee chairman. The PACs for the American Council of Life Insurers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees bundled close to $60,000 for Frank too.