Political Party Time

New Dems requesting debt dollars too

Today the New York TimeEditorial Page called many incoming freshmen Republicans hypocritical for smoothly entering Washington’s money culture after running anti-business-as-usual campaigns.

The Times commented on the dozens of Washington fundraisers being held by GOP freshmen in the past few weeks before the group is even sworn into office. As previously noted on Party Time, many of the events aim to pay down campaign debts from the costly midterm elections.

To be sure, the other side of the aisle is playing the same game; Party Time has received a couple of invitations to debt retirement events for Democrats.

Tomorrow morning, Mark Critz, D-Pa., the former aide to the late Rep. John Murtha, who faced stiff competition for his old boss's seat in a special election earlier in 2010 and defended it in the midterm, is getting help from the Democratic National Committee, which is holding a fundraiser for Critz at its headquarters, the congressman’s office confirmed.

With strong attendance, Critz could easily make up his election debt -- totaling about $65,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. PACs are being asked to shell out as much as $5,000, though individuals can attend for $500.

Donors appear to have a choice: if they want their funds to go towards 2010’s debt, they simply need to write “General Election Debt” on their checks, according to the invitation.

Debt relief fundraising provides an opportunity to special interests that were not big contributors before Nov. 2 to bend the congressman’s ear. By donating now, as opposed to during Critz’s close election race, corporate PAC managers and lobbyists are getting a sure thing -- there is no doubt that Critz will be in Congress come January. The former Murtha aide won his seat in a tight race, winning 51 percent of the vote.

Down in New Orleans, a Democrat saddled with a bit more debt -- Cedric Richmond -- planned a “Debt Retirement Lunch” for today. The Congressman-elect has over $170,000 in debt, according to FEC filings, and is asking for contributions of between $500 and $5,000, according to the invitation.

And what about the Democrats that lost? Rep. Mike McMahon, D-N.Y., fell to Michael Grimm, but he held a donor appreciation event at a Capitol Hill lobbying office last week which drew a sizable crowd, according to his fundraising consultants. The event was complimentary to donors and the invitation did not solicit donations.

Of late, a handful of other “Thank You” events have been scheduled by Democrats, including election winners Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and David Scott, D-Ga., neither of whom has campaign debt, according to the FEC.