House Democrats have set up a new dues structure in an attempt to swell party coffers, but it will require lawmakers to pay the price for their new majority status — twice.
According to a memorandum distributed to Democratic lawmakers at their regular meeting last week, a proposal by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would require Members not only to pay regular dues — which will be increased — but also to meet a second goal in direct fundraising for the committee itself.
“In order to change the direction of the country, we must build on the momentum of the last election,” read the memorandum, issued by the Democratic Caucus Member Participation Task Force, which includes DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.). “That will require the active participation of every member of our caucus in the DCCC 2008 election effort.”
Although the DCCC has tracked lawmakers’ figures in both categories in previous election cycles, it had not imposed individual requirements outside of the biannual dues.
Under the new program, Democrats will be required to shell out either $75,000 or $100,000 — how much depends on factors including committee assignments — to the DCCC over the course of the two-year cycle.
But those funds must be raised directly for the DCCC, meaning Members won’t be able to count money raised for other candidates or even the campaign committee’s Red-to-Blue or Frontline fundraising programs. Instead, the proposal calls for the creation of a “point system” to credit lawmakers who travel or host events for the candidates helped by those DCCC programs.
According to the memo, Members can meet their individual goals by hosting events specifically for the DCCC, making telephone, e-mail or mail solicitations, and meeting one-on-one with certain donors.
The DCCC will also tighten its rules governing how lawmakers are credited for contributions, limiting recognition for donations from political action committees to one Member, for example.
In addition, the Caucus will be asked to contribute more in the current cycle — with annual dues rising by as much as $50,000 in some cases.
“Members’ dues reflect the increase in the amount of money Members can raise for their personal campaign accounts now that we are in the Majority and the new challenges we face in protecting our majority even as we seek to expand the playing field,” the memorandum states.
Although not specified in the memorandum, a Democratic source said rank-and-file Members will see their annual dues increase by $25,000 while those lawmakers with seats on exclusive committees — Appropriations, Ways and Means, Rules, Financial Services, and Energy and Commerce — will pay an additional $50,000. Dues in the 2006 cycle were set between $100,000 and $300,000 for the majority of lawmakers, with party leaders required to ante up between $400,000 and $600,000.