One Lobbyist on Track to Channel $2.5 Million to DCCC

Posted October 22, 2010 at 7:49pm

Utilities lobbyist Brian Wolff continued his high-dollar fundraising earlier this month for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, bundling $64,500 for the committee during the first two weeks of October and putting his cycle-to-date total at $1.96 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Wolff is expected to channel nearly $2.5 million to the DCCC by Election Day, 25 percent more than he promised the party two years ago, a Democratic fundraising source confirmed. The DCCC is well on pace to raise at least $110 million this cycle, which would mean that for every dollar raised by the committee, more than two cents would have come at Wolff’s behest.

A longstanding practice on K Street, political contribution bundling was elevated to an art form by President George W. Bush’s campaigns earlier this decade.

Democrats made the gifts a target in their ethics rewrite three years ago, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which required candidates and parties to disclose to the FEC those campaign contributors who directed $16,000 or more during a given year.

In the past three months, Wolff has held more than 40 fundraising events for House Democrats, the source confirmed. His biggest months this cycle came in August and September, when fundraising records show he raised a combined $866,500 for the DCCC.

“People who used to work on the Hill raise money for the people they know,” Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf said. “I give [Wolff] a lot of credit. That’s a lot of money to raise. He has a close relationship with the Speaker. He’s going to do everything he can to help her.”

But it’s also uncertain whether Wolff, who declined to comment for this article, will continue to bundle money for the DCCC after the midterm elections. A former DCCC executive director, Wolff is a key downtown ally to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose leadership prospects in her Caucus are undoubtedly contingent on how well her party performs on Election Day.

Wolff is senior vice president of external affairs at the Edison Electric Institute, a job that also requires him to raise money this cycle for Republicans, including Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.) and open-seat candidate Ben Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle who is running to replace retiring Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.).

Elmendorf has also been a big-dollar fundraiser for the DCCC, bundling more than $100,000 for the committee this cycle. Elmendorf’s former boss, one-time House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.), also directed contributions to House Democrats in March, when he bundled $25,000, FEC records show.

Regardless of who wins on Nov. 2, Elmendorf said he would continue to raise money for the DCCC.

“I’ll raise money again — I help my friends and Democrats are my friends,” he said. “I’m a loyal Democrat. … When they ask, I try to help them.”