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
Scott Bland and Ben Terris
Add to Briefcase
Scott Bland and Ben Terris
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 »
U.N. REPORT REVEALS DETAILS
North Korean Chemical Weapons Shipments to Syria Intercepted
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country's chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations."

Source:
ONLY TWO EVENTS REMAIN
14 Charities Cancel Fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Corporate fallout over President Donald Trump's comments on the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virgina continues as two more charities announced this weekend they would be canceling gala fundraisers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida ... In all, 14 have canceled and only two events remain: The Palm Beach Police Foundation's annual Policeman Ball and the Palm Beach County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner, according to reports."

Source:
“CHANGING BUDGET SITUATION”
Report: White House Tried to Kill Mountaintop Removal Study
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Trump administration officials have told the National Academy of Sciences to cease all work on a study of the public health risks for people living near mountaintop removal coal-mining sites in Appalachian, the academy said in a statement late this morning." The Department of the Interior blamed the move on a review of contracts in the wake of a "changing budget situation."

Source:
ANATOLY ANTONOV TO REPLACE SERGEY KISLYAK
Putin Appoints New Ambassador to U.S.
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Kremlin announced today that Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Anatoly Antonov as Russia’s ambassador to the United States, replacing Sergey Kislyak. Antonov, a former deputy defense minister who has been sanctioned by the European Union for his role in Russia's takeover of Crimea in 2014, will come to Washington with a reputation as a hardline negotiator. He is best known to American officials from his time fronting Russia's negotiations at arms control talks with the Obama administration, which in 2009 produced a treaty renewing U.S. and Russian commitments to cut their nuclear arsenals. From 2011 until last December he also served as a reliable defender of the Kremlin's positions on the Ukraine crisis."

Source:
PARTICIPATES IN TOWN HALL TONIGHT
Ryan: “There Are No Sides” on Charlottesville
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

After taking fire for not forcefully condemning President Trump's statements on Charlottesville, Speaker Paul Ryan today issued a statement that takes issue with any "moral relativism" when it comes to Neo-Nazis. "There are no sides," he wrote. "There is no other argument. We will not tolerate this hateful ideology in our society." Ryan participates in a CNN town hall tonight from Racine, Wis.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login