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.

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While NRSC Chairman Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) has been strapped for cash, his counterpart, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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 Murkowski The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access 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 FeinsteinTrump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions This week: Congress returns for first time since mass shootings GOP senators object to White House delaying home-state projects for border wall 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 CarperLawmakers grill manufacturers over 'forever chemicals' contamination EPA ordered to set stronger smog standards America is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction MORE (Del.) has transferred at least $250,000 from his campaign and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups 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 HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators 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.  

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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.