As the race to complete the appropriations process enters the homestretch, the three senior lawmakers hoping to helm the powerful spending panel in the 109th Congress are still finding plenty of time to raise money.
Newly filed Federal Election Commission reports show that two Appropriations Committee chairmanship candidates, Reps. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), have continued their strong fundraising pace while a third contender, Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ill.), is racing to catch up with his two rivals.
Appropriations Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) will have to surrender the gavel after this term due to term limits, and while Regula is now second to Young on the panel roster, he has been seen as a long shot to win the post because of his historically anemic fundraising.
With encouragement from his friends in the Ohio delegation, Regula in August formed a leadership political action committee, CARE PAC, to dole out funds to his colleagues.
In September, its first full month in operation, CARE PAC raised $73,000. The entire Ohio Republican delegation hosted one event for the committee, and Regula has also received fundraising help in Ohio from Christopher Hess, a former aide to Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) who now works for the Greater Cleveland Growth Association.
“It’s surprisingly nice,” Regula said recently of his entrance into the PAC world. “People have been very supportive.”
Regula emphasized that his decision to form his own political action committee does not contradict his longtime policy of not accepting PAC money for his re-election account.
“This is for the party, not me,” he said. “If we don’t have the majority, then we’re not chairmen of anything.”
Even with a solid start, Regula has a way to go before he enters Lewis’ and Rogers’ league in the PAC fundraising department.
In the past three months, Lewis’ Future Leaders PAC raked in $265,000, ending September with $380,000 in the bank. Rogers’ committee, HALPAC, raised $157,000 over the same period and closed September with $331,000 on hand.
More significantly, Regula’s fundraising for his re-election committee was largely dormant, while his two opponents sit on seven-figure war chests.
In the third quarter, Regula’s personal campaign committee took in less than $5,000, leaving him with just $56,000 on hand. That contrasts with Lewis and Rogers, who raised $58,000 apiece in the quarter and have $1.3 million and $1 million in the bank, respectively.
Through his re-election committee and PAC, Regula so far this year has handed out $11,000 to individual colleagues’ campaigns and an additional $20,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Lewis has distributed a total of $78,000 to his fellow Republicans, while Rogers has doled out $31,000 to House GOP candidates and $32,000 to the NRCC.