Today’s Hotline features a complete third-quarter Senate fundraising chart. Here are the buried nuggets:
— Hey, big spenders. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) nearly spent as much money ($2.07 million) as he brought in ($2.27 million), leaving him with a still-imposing $9.76 million cash on hand. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has been infamous for his free-spending campaign habits, leading 2014 Democrats (again) in that category ($1.17 million), despite not being a top target. And Tennessee GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander is taking his primary challenge seriously, spending significantly more ($1.15 million) than he brought in.
— Paging Linda McMahon. The wealthiest self-funders include: former GOP Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land ($1 million), McConnell’s tea-party challenger Matt Bevin ($600,000), Georgia GOP Senate candidate David Perdue ($500,000) and North Carolina GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis ($250,000). Also on the list: New Hampshire Senate candidate Jim Rubens (R), a businessman and former state senator whose campaign hasn’t gotten much attention.
— Running on empty. Several prominent senators and challengers don’t have as much cash-on-hand as expected. That list would include Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (R), a retirement possibility, who only raised $53,000 and banked $803,000. Cochran, if he runs, would be facing a tea party-aligned opponent. Despite being in Congress since 2007, GOP Rep. Paul Broun only has banked $447,000 for the Georgia Senate race. Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) only has $771,000 in her account, against appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D), who banked over $2 million.
And the top fundraisers? Among Dem challengers, it’s Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes, who raised more than any other Senate candidate in 2014. For Republican challengers, it’s Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, who topped $1-million mark. Among incumbents, McConnell led the way for Republicans, and Franken and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) were the Dem winners.
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.