Supporters of a Rep. Paul D. Ryan speakership are calling two members of the House Freedom Caucus hypocrites for their criticism of his ability to fundraise for the party.
Ryan backers say the two members who questioned the Wisconsin Republican’s commitment to fundraising duties — Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Mo Brooks — raise almost no money for the party or their colleagues.
Huelskamp of Kansas and Brooks of Alabama told Buzzfeed on Wednesday the HFC is looking at Ryan’s ability to spend time away from his family to raise funds as it contemplates whether to support him for speaker. Ryan has set conditions for seeking the gavel that include needing the support from all factions of the House GOP conference, and having time to spend with his young family.
“Speaker John Boehner raised $50 million,” Huelskamp told Buzzfeed. “The Speaker has to work more than 40 hours a week.”
Brooks said the HFC is weighing “whether or not [Ryan] has time to do the job.”
But Republican members of Congress and staffers alike say Ryan is one of the biggest contributors to fellow House Republicans, as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee — which spends millions each cycle to both protect vulnerable GOP incumbents and defeat Democrats.
Ryan has either written checks for or transferred more than $2.7 million to the NRCC since 2011, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Over his 17-year career on Capitol Hill, Ryan has raised $40 million and given $8.2 million of that to his GOP colleagues, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“Paul Ryan has been very generous with his time and his efforts to help fundraise for the NRCC, his colleagues and Republican candidates,” NRCC Chairman Greg Walden told CQ Roll Call. “We have talked with Paul about the future and we are completely comfortable with his ability to continue to be a powerhouse when it comes to raising money so we can continue to elect Republican members to the House.”
Huelskamp, on the other hand, has never been a strong rainmaker. He raised just $65,000 in the third quarter for his re-election campaign — and donated none of it to the NRCC, according to an FEC filing.
In fact, Huelskamp has not transferred any of the $180,000 in required dues to the NRCC in 2015, according to a source who has seen a confidential list of how much each member has donated to the committee.
This cycle, Brooks has given just $21,000 of the $180,000 he’s required to donate to the NRCC.
Brooks said he has not given much money to the NRCC this cycle because he had a super PAC tied to House leadership spend ad money attacking him on his conservative record.
That has “caused me to hold on to my funds to fend off any kinds of attacks from House leadership,” Brooks said.
Brooks said his comment to Buzzfeed was taken out of context.
“I believe in protecting their family time and I don’t believe in congressmen who have not done a very good job to raise sufficient funds to protect their own districts, I don’t believe in them taking away from the valuable personal and family time of House leadership,” Brooks said.
One former House Republican leadership aide simply laughed in response when asked about Huelskamp’s role in raising money for his House GOP colleagues. Another House Republican chief of staff, granted anonymity to speak candidly, had his own take on Huelskamp.
“He raises zero dollars for his own campaigns,” the chief of staff said, scoffing at Huelskamp’s criticism of Ryan’s fundraising ability. “These guys would rather sit around Tortilla Coast eating their boogers than govern. No matter who comes up, they don’t care, it’s totally insane. No one is good enough for any of them.”
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