Incoming Whip Scalise Cashing In With Big Donors

Dozens of PACs have been filling the Louisiana Republican’s campaign coffers since he was elected to the No. 3 leadership post in the House.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) (L) speaks to members of the media as Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (R) listens after a leadership election at a House Republican Conference meeting June 19, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. House GOPs have picked Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the new House majority leader and Scalise as the new majority whip. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
National Journal
Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
July 21, 2014, 5:46 p.m.

A dona­tion to a mem­ber of Con­gress? $1,000. A dona­tion to the fu­ture ma­jor­ity whip of the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives? Price­less.

That ap­pears to be the cal­cu­la­tion Mas­ter­Card made in June. The cred­it-card com­pany’s polit­ic­al ac­tion com­mit­tee had nev­er giv­en money to Rep. Steve Scal­ise be­fore this sum­mer. But Mas­ter­Card’s PAC was one of more than 60 donors that gave thou­sands of dol­lars to Scal­ise’s con­gres­sion­al cam­paign in the days after the Louisi­ana Re­pub­lic­an was elec­ted as the next House ma­jor­ity whip, ac­cord­ing to fed­er­al cam­paign fin­ance re­cords.

House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor’s sur­pris­ing primary loss on June 10 opened up a slot in GOP lead­er­ship for Scal­ise, who will take over as ma­jor­ity whip on Ju­ly 31 when the cur­rent whip, Rep. Kev­in Mc­Carthy of Cali­for­nia, re­places Can­tor as ma­jor­ity lead­er. Sud­denly and not co­in­cid­ent­ally, groups and in­di­vidu­al donors are lin­ing up to add them­selves to Scal­ise’s sup­port­er rolls.

The nearly $150,000 that Scal­ise brought in at the very end of June in­cluded cam­paign cash from nearly three dozen new donors, Mas­ter­Card’s PAC in­cluded, that had nev­er ap­peared on the three-term con­gress­man’s cam­paign fin­ance re­ports be­fore he as­cen­ded to the No. 3 spot among House Re­pub­lic­ans. The new donors range from seni­or ex­ec­ut­ives at Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ing firms to com­mit­tees rep­res­ent­ing the de­fense, fin­an­cial, and med­ic­al in­dus­tries.

Scal­ise doesn’t need the money for reelec­tion; like most mem­bers of con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship, his seat is safe. Scal­ise won reelec­tion in Novem­ber 2012 with two-thirds of the vote.

One new donor, Squire Pat­ton Boggs’s Emanuel Ross­man, comes from the top-billing lobby shop in Wash­ing­ton so far this year, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Re­spons­ive Polit­ics. An­oth­er, U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce lob­by­ist John Howard, hails from the highest-spend­ing lob­by­ing cli­ent of 2014, also per CRP.

In the PAC cat­egory, the de­fense firm Gen­er­al Dy­nam­ics and the fin­an­cial firm Mc­Graw Hill also gave to Scal­ise for the first time.

With the help of his new sup­port­ers, whose dona­tions were pro­cessed on the last day of June, Scal­ise raised more money for his cam­paign com­mit­tee in the second quarter of 2014 than in any three-month peri­od since the year he was first elec­ted to Con­gress. In the short term, that helped re­coup ex­penses from his pricey race for ma­jor­ity whip, dur­ing which Scal­ise donated $30,000 to House Re­pub­lic­an col­leagues, in­clud­ing Can­tor, and racked up bills in the $10,000 range at res­taur­ants where he had din­ner with his cam­paign team.

In the long term, this could be the be­gin­ning of Scal­ise’s trans­form­a­tion in­to a fun­drais­ing force. The trend of new donors should only grow in the next quarter for two reas­ons. First, as a new mem­ber of lead­er­ship, Scal­ise has great­er re­spons­ib­il­it­ies to the rest of the caucus, which in­cludes re­doubled fun­drais­ing ef­forts.

On the oth­er side of the fun­drais­ing equa­tion, it’s also the job of some PACs and in­di­vidu­als to have re­la­tion­ships with the ma­jor­ity whip. “So in­dus­tries will be lin­ing up to sup­port him,” said Ron Bon­jean, a GOP strategist and former spokes­man for House and Sen­ate lead­er­ship.

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