Half of the members of the House Republican whip team have yet to contribute a dime this year to the “Young Guns— program, created by Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and his deputy, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), to train and reward GOP challengers across the country.
The recommended $12,000 donation per whip team member to the Young Guns program is listed as a part of the team’s financial commitment to the Republican Conference this year, according to an Oct. 8 list of whip team fundraising goals obtained by Roll Call.
Several GOP aides said that participation in the program has been strongly encouraged by Cantor and McCarthy, but that it was not mandatory.
Ten months into the year, 33 of the 60 whip team members have not contributed to the initiative, and 13 have contributed several thousand dollars less than the $12,000 suggested figure.
Cantor, McCarthy and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) created the program in the 2007-08 cycle to support upcoming Republican candidates. It is now being run by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Rob Collins, Cantor’s deputy chief of staff, said that Cantor has not and never will impose a penalty for not making financial contributions to the Conference and that no one on the whip team is required to do anything.
“As a whip team we came together in January and decided that to be the best team, we had to hold each other accountable, not with coercion or penalties but with positive reinforcement and accountability,— Collins said in an e-mail Friday. “The decision by the whip team to be publicly accountable to each other was the kind of bold, exciting and aggressive commitment our Whips made to regain the majority.
“It was a conscious decision to reject small agendas and small ideas, and one that we continue to believe in,— he added.
The suggested donation to the program is a part of the plan that McCarthy and Cantor laid out in January to increase the emphasis on fundraising in the vote-counting operation after they took over from Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.).
In fact, Cantor and McCarthy raised more than $1 million for whip team members in July so that they could better focus on raising cash for the party.
One GOP aide said a lack of financial enthusiasm for the program was because Cantor and McCarthy have not pushed Members to donate money yet. The aide said that when they do, the donations will roll in quickly.
The Young Guns donation is not the only outstanding balance for some members of the Republican whip team. More than half have yet to pony up their full financial commitment to the NRCC, including McCarthy and Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), according to the Oct. 8 list.
In addition to their membership dues — $25,000 for members of leadership and ranking members, and $15,000 for rank-and-file Republicans — Conference members are also required to raise money for the party’s March and June fundraising dinners.
The two dinners and the membership dues make up a Member’s total commitment to the NRCC or his “NRCC assessment for 2009,— which is separate from the $12,000 requested for the Young Guns.
Unlike the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the NRCC divides the dues into yearly goals rather than requirements for the entire cycle.
A McCarthy aide said his boss has paid his assessments in full since the list was assembled earlier this month.
Jeremy Deutsch, McMorris Rodgers’ chief of staff, said the fourth-ranking Republican has paid her membership dues and is working with the NRCC to fulfill the rest of her requirements before the end of the quarter.
As of Oct. 8, McMorris Rodgers had given $43,500 of the $175,000 that she is required to raise for the NRCC.
The NRCC will hold a number of events over the next few months in order to help Members such as McMorris Rodgers make their financial commitments by the end of the year. For example, Michelle Marston, chief of staff for Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), said Bachmann expected to raise money at an upcoming NRCC regional event in Minnesota to help her meet her $105,000 commitment to the NRCC.
“Members have until the end of the year to fulfill their assessments, and we’re flexible with how and when they choose to complete their payments,— an NRCC official said.
Several members of the whip team have exceeded their NRCC assessment for 2009.
Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has given $11,300 more than his $200,000 commitment. Rep. Howard McKeon (Calif.), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, has given $91,667 more than his goal of $200,000. Issa and McKeon also donated $12,000 each to the Young Guns program.
A second House GOP aide, who works for a member of the whip team, said he was confident that whip team members with outstanding balances had plenty of time to pay their commitments.
“2009 dues are 2009 dues,— the aide said. “I don’t know anyone on the whip team that wouldn’t do everything possible to support the committee, especially financially.—
The aide added that many Members want to keep their cash-on-hand numbers as high as possible until the end of the quarter.
“Cash on hand is an important number for everybody,— the aide said.