Rep. Goodlatte launches PAC

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), along with Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), will host a tennis and golf fundraiser at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., this weekend to launch Goodlatte’s new political action committee, the Good Fund.

Raising money while playing tennis or golf, hunting or fishing, or watching professional sports at an upscale resort with a contingent of corporate lobbyists is not unusual. But it is unusual that Goodlatte, a committee chairman, did not previously have a PAC. PACs enable lawmakers to raise money in larger increments than what donors can contribute to their personal campaigns.

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Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.


House leaders have put more pressure on potential and current chairmen to raise money. Committee chairmen are asked to raise $250,000 for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

When Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) announced his bid to chair the Appropriations Committee, his first move was to start a PAC. But Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), a less senior member of the committee and a more prodigious fundraiser, was selected by the GOP Steering Committee.  

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), whom House leaders dumped as chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, was criticized for not raising enough money. Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.), an Appropriations Committee “cardinal,” or subcommittee chairman, was told to collect more campaign money this year.

Goodlatte, who is regarded as a low-key, hardworking lawmaker, raked in nearly $800,000 for his 2004 race and nearly $350,000 came from agribusiness, according to data at opensecrets.org, a website that compiles campaign-finance data. He has more than $1 million in cash on hand but only raised $98,000 in the first quarter of 2005, a typically slow time in the fundraising cycle.

But several senior House GOP aides said it makes perfect sense that Goodlatte would start a PAC. First, besides the other committee chairmen serving on the Agriculture Committee, no other member has a PAC. Second, Goodlatte is the sixth ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee and has a chance to become chairman if he remains in the House.

Goodlatte’s PAC “was formed to help maintain the Republican majority in Congress and support Republican candidates in Virginia,” a spokesman for Goodlatte said.

Of the 21 House committee chairmen, only Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) and Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) do not have PACs, even though House leaders have emphasized fundraising prowess when selecting chairmen. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) shares a PAC with Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.).

In the Senate, only three of 18 committee chairmen — Sens. John Warner (R-Va.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) — do not have political action committees, according to data at politicalmoneyline.com.

This weekend’s fundraiser is also unique because Blunt and Goodlatte are following in the footsteps of Warner and former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), who held a golf tournament for 22 years each June in Williamsburg, Va. The event is considered the grandfather of all golf-tournament fundraisers, according to several Republicans familiar with the event. They added that demand to attend the tournament was intense and that tickets sold out each year.

Warner told The Hill that he hosted the fundraiser himself last month, since Nickles has retired.

Although Blunt and Goodlatte do not have plans to hold an event next year, they hope the event is big enough of a draw to do it again.

Several lawmakers, some of whom will fly to Hot Springs, Va., on corporate jets, have confirmed that they will attend, including Reps. Hastings, Duncan Hunter (Calif.), Shelly Moore Capito (W.Va.), Ander Crenshaw (Fla.), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Buck McKeon (Calif.), Lamar Smith (Texas) and Henry Bonilla (Texas), according to senior House GOP aide.

A weekend stay, breakfast, dinner and unlimited golf costs $445 per person during the summer, according to the Homestead’s website.

Campaign-finance laws allow individual donors, unions and corporations to give up to $5,000 to PACs. Donors can give a maximum of $2,100 to a candidate’s personal campaign committee in a primary and general election.