Money Hasn’t Bought Boehner Love

Speaker of the House John Boehner speaks to the media after a meeting with President Obama at the White House Wednesday on the second day of the government shutdown. 
National Journal
Ben Terris Scott Bland
Oct. 3, 2013, 8:31 a.m.

There was a little more to John Boehner’s cross-coun­try Au­gust road trip than the usu­al middle-aged sum­mer hijinks, even bey­ond the fact that one of his golf bud­dies was Don­ald Trump and his bus came with a se­cur­ity de­tail. The 15-state swing let the speak­er flex his muscles and ex­ert one of his last-re­main­ing powers to in­flu­ence his con­fer­ence: his abil­ity to raise money. Turns out, it wasn’t a com­plete suc­cess.

Boehner did raise money, pre­sum­ably gobs of it. (Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, re­portedly raked in more than $95,000 dur­ing the speak­er’s stop in Boise.) Yet it wasn’t enough to keep the team to­geth­er. Just weeks later, four of the people Boehner spent his sum­mer rais­ing money for bucked his wishes, help­ing lead to the gov­ern­ment shut­down. If Boehner’s money talks, some of its re­cip­i­ents wer­en’t listen­ing.

Eighty mem­bers of Boehner’s rest­ive GOP con­fer­ence signed a let­ter in Au­gust ask­ing the speak­er to in­clude pro­vi­sions de­fund­ing Obama­care in any bill fund­ing oth­er parts of the gov­ern­ment. That wasn’t the House lead­er­ship’s ori­gin­al plan, but the drum­beat that built dur­ing the Au­gust re­cess was im­possible to ig­nore, and some of the clam­or was com­ing from dis­tricts and rep­res­ent­at­ives Boehner had just vis­ited.

“We wer­en’t really in agree­ment with the ori­gin­al plan,” said Rep. Scott Perry, a fresh­man from Pennsylvania who had held a $500-per-per­son fun­drais­ing event with the speak­er. That plan, one in which Re­pub­lic­ans would hold off on a ma­jor fight over health care un­til the debt ceil­ing, could have avoided the cur­rent gov­ern­ment shut­down.

Kev­in Mad­den, a polit­ic­al con­sult­ant who formerly served as a Boehner spokes­man, says the rank-and-file simply isn’t as be­hold­en to party lead­ers to raise cash as be­fore. “You have net­works of con­ser­vat­ive grass­roots act­iv­ists that at the click of the mouse can or­gan­ize and sup­port a par­tic­u­lar can­did­ate,” he said.

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, the reindeer farm­er-turned-con­gress­man, says he has been happy that the likes of Boehner and House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor have come to his Michigan dis­trict to help him with his fun­drais­ing. (With a Re­pub­lic­an primary op­pon­ent already de­clared and pulling in more than $425,000 in seed money, Bentivolio’s go­ing to need all the cash he can get.) He says that he’s nev­er heard a peep from the speak­er about his de­cision to take a hard line on the con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion.

“Angry? I have nev­er seen him angry. He is one cool guy,” Bentivolio said Wed­nes­day between votes to fund small parts of the gov­ern­ment piece­meal. “That’s what I like about him. He’s like—he’s like Eis­en­hower. He has all these dif­fer­ent groups to dis­cuss with and plan strategy. And like Eis­en­hower, he’s rais­ing the right agenda for the right reas­ons.”

Boehner’s team doesn’t see the fun­draisers as wasted ef­fort. Cory Fritz, a spokes­man for Boehner’s polit­ic­al of­fice, emailed: “The Speak­er’s Au­gust road trip was a suc­cess, bring­ing in much-needed re­sources for House Re­pub­lic­ans as we stand united in work­ing to keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning and pro­tect all Amer­ic­ans from the pres­id­ent’s un­work­able health care law.” Even be­fore the trip, Boehner had re­portedly donated more than $5.5 mil­lion to the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee, the arm of the party charged with win­ning House elec­tions.

Con­ser­vat­ives such as Rep. Dan Ben­ishek, R-Mich., say that doesn’t mean their votes are bought and paid for: “I don’t know what one thing has to do with the oth­er,” he said with a laugh.

That Boehner lacks power over his con­fer­ence has be­come a tru­ism: He can’t of­fer them ear­marks be­cause they are banned, he can’t pun­ish mem­bers be­cause they don’t care as much about com­mit­tee po­s­i­tions, and he can’t ex­ploit their in­sec­ur­it­ies, be­cause many of them rep­res­ent dis­tricts that hail their mar­tyr­dom for a cause.

That leaves money as a wedge, but the spig­ot flows every­where now. Boehner may have raised $93 mil­lion for him­self and oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans last elec­tion, but the Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund, the polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee foun­ded by the Her­it­age Found­a­tion’s Jim De­Mint, man­aged to pull in $1.5 mil­lion dur­ing the “De­fund Obama­care” push in Au­gust alone. Even so, there are no signs from Boehner that he’s about to be any less gen­er­ous with his fun­drais­ing.

“I spoke with him on the floor last night,” Perry said. “I think the re­la­tion­ship is sol­id and strong. If it wasn’t, that would be petty, and I don’t think he’s that kind of in­di­vidu­al. He hasn’t shown him­self to be that kind of in­di­vidu­al.”

Maybe that’s the prob­lem.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×