GOP lawmakers, freshmen, fundraise around CPAC
As conservatives gather in D.C. for the annual CPAC conference this week, where many potential presidential nominees will be speaking, Republican lawmakers will continue seeking special interest money at fundraisers around Capitol Hill.
During the first two days of the three-day conference, Republicans have planned at least three dozen campaign fundraisers in D.C., according to Party Time's data.
And many of the conference's featured senators and House members, including freshman Tea Party senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, will be fundraising as the event rolls on (Here is the CPAC agenda).
Lee, whose candidacy was bolstered with Tea Party support, is a featured speaker at the conference on Friday. But he still has election debt from his upset primary victory over former Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah. On Thursday, to retire that debt (and his general election debt), the Online Lenders Alliance, along with one of its lobbyists, Bryan Cunningham, is hosting an event for him. Cunningham lobbies for three of the companies that spent the most on lobbying last year (Southern Co., Verizon and AT&T), hails from Utah, and actually began his Capitol Hill career as a Bennett aide.
Freshmen Republicans will continue their early-term fundraising as CPAC unfolds. Upstart fundraising patron Jeff Denham, R-Calif, has an event Thursday. Rookie congressman Sean Duffy, R-Wis., who won with Tea Party support, is introducing headliner Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, at CPAC on Friday and is fundraising for his campaign on the Hill the day before.
The day before the conference begins, a few freshmen members of the conservative wing of the GOP caucus (the Republican Study Committee) will be on hand for a fundraiser benefiting the conservative leadership PAC of Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.
Meanwhile, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., will be speaking Friday morning and fundraising at a breakfast Thursday. As she assumed a leadership position on the Energy and Commerce Committee in the last Congress, she saw her PAC donations shoot through the roof.
Tom Price, R-Ga., a member of the Republican leadership, is also speaking Friday and holding a fundraiser Thursday.
At least one interest group speaking at the conference -- the National Rifle Association -- is also hosting a campaign event for a GOP congressman the same day. Just after the groups's CEO, Wayne LaPierre, speaks Thursday, Michael McCaul, R-Texas, has planned a "Laser Shoot-Out and Hard Times Chili" event at the NRA's Capitol Hill office.
Some groups are even putting on CPAC-themed fundraisers.
On Thursday evening, a contribution to a conservative PAC called One Nation PAC gets you a selection of whiskey, wine and cigars and promises “good conversation with fellow conservatives" on the first night of CPAC. Freshmen Reps. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Dan Benishek, R-Mich., a new Tea Party member, and Austin Scott, R-Ga., are draws for the shindig.
PACs are asked to contribute between $1,000 and $5,000 so that, presumably, another PAC can contribute to conservative candidates. In a bid to attract young conservatives, who often flock to the conference, those under 25 can attend the fundraiser for only $25. One Nation PAC has raised nearly $300,000 but contributed less than $20,000 directly to candidates’ campaigns so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Other GOP freshmen fundraising around the event:
Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.
Richard Hanna, R-N.Y.
Bill Huizenga, R-Mich.
Martha Roby, R-Ala.
David Schweikert, R-Ariz.
Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind.
Joe Walsh, R-Ill.