Stingy senators stiff GOP

Republican senators with millions of dollars in their campaign accounts have given little or nothing to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), despite its desperate pleas for cash funds.

Fewer than 10 Senate Republicans met goals they received for an NRSC fundraiser with President Bush in McLean, Va., Tuesday evening. GOP senators were asked to contribute $100,000 from their campaign accounts or recruit four major donors for the event.


While NRSC Chairman Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) has been strapped for cash, his counterpart, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), has persuaded colleagues to give hundreds of thousands of dollars from their personal campaign accounts to the party’s cause.

The Senate Democratic fundraising committee has collected far more cash than has its Republican counterpart. The DSCC reported $32.8 million in cash on hand at the end of last month, while the NRSC had only $15.3 million.

Republican Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.), Jim Bunning (Ky.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Pete Domenici (N.M.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocrats worried about Trump's growing strength The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' MORE (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnOvernight Energy: Experts criticize changes to EPA lead, copper rule | House panel looks into plan to limit powers of EPA science advisers | Senate bill aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 Trump budget proposal funds financially struggling museum in Reagan's childhood home The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach MORE (Okla.), and Larry Craig (Idaho) have given nothing to the NRSC, according to campaign finance data collected by the Federal Election Commission and CQ Money Line, a website that tracks fundraising.

These lawmakers have kept their wallets shut despite having millions and not facing reelection this year. Specter, for example, reported $4.2 million in his war chest. Lugar has $2.2 million in his account. Domenici has $840,000 and has announced his retirement.

A spokesman for Lugar said that while his boss has not given anything to the NRSC, he has raised $372,000 for the committee, a contribution that does not show up on fundraising reports.

A spokesman for Specter said the senator visits the NRSC regularly to make fundraising calls, has recruited major donors for the committee, and has given $50,000 to candidates through his leadership political action committee (PAC).

Democrats have showered Schumer with money. Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHouse passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber MORE (D-Calif.) wrote a $250,000 check to the committee in June. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) contributed half a million dollars last year.

Even lesser-known Democrats have given hundreds of thousands: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) has given the DSCC at least $100,000; Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperConsensus forming for ambitious climate goal: Net zero pollution Overnight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Democratic senator gives EPA a D-minus on implementing PFAS action plan MORE (Del.) has transferred at least $250,000 from his campaign and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line MORE (Fla.) has kicked in at least $150,000.

{mospagebreak}Even Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), who calls himself an “independent Democrat” and whom the committee opposed when he faced Ned Lamont, the official Democratic nominee in the 2006 Connecticut Senate race, gave $100,000 to the DSCC in December.

The parsimony of Republican senators is putting their fundraising committee at a big disadvantage for the second election cycle in a row. During the 2005-2006 cycle, Republican senators transferred $4.5 million to their party committee while Democrats gave $10 million to theirs, according to a party official who reviewed the records.

Not all Republican senators have failed to support the party’s political operations. A few have gone out of their way to raise money for Senate candidates. Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTimeline: Trump and Romney's rocky relationship Key Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske MORE (R-Utah) has spent much of this recess on the phone with donors. One committee aide said that a day rarely goes by that Hatch does not make fundraising calls for the NRSC in Washington or in Utah.  


Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) have also gained notice from party officials for their efforts to prevent the GOP getting plowed under by Schumer and the DSCC.

Ensign has grown frustrated with the lack of participation as Schumer has opened a sizable financial lead.

During a recent interview with The Hill, Ensign said about half the Senate’s 49 Republicans were “not even close” to the pace needed to meet their fundraising goals. Ensign has asked members to raise $750,000-$3 million depending on seniority, leadership positions, and committee assignments.

“We’ve tried fear, we’ve tried positive reward, positive reinforcement, we’ve tried being a little harder on them, we use different things at different times – begging, we beg a lot,” he said.

But NRSC officials often hear excuses in response.

“I think they’re all pathetic excuses, but that’s just my own take on it,” Ensign  told The Hill only half-jokingly.

Republican senators have each been asked to meet their contribution either by transferring the sum from their campaign accounts or by raising it for the committee. Many appear to have fallen far short despite controlling millions in political funds.

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), who occupies a lucrative fundraising position as ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, has nearly $13 million in his reelection fund. Yet he has given only $15,000 from his leadership PAC to the NRSC.

Some lawmakers say there is plenty of time to give money to the committee before Senate races reach full intensity.

Susan Irby, spokeswoman for Craig said her boss “doesn’t foreclose the possibility of making a contribution before the end of the cycle.”

Irby said that retiring senators such as Craig often first use their remaining political funds to close campaign operations before giving them away to other candidates.

But while Ensign could take solace in the prospect that his colleagues may become more generous later, he faces the reality that many Democratic senators are giving far more money to the DSCC right now.
Jessica Malmgren contributed to this report.