Cathy's Coffers Part I, CMR For Congress
A Roadmap for understanding campaign finance
This diagram is from a 2014 interactive article in the NYTimes. It is a great place to start understanding the effect of money in our politics. The limits on contributions are indexed to inflation, so the illustrated limits are now higher, e.g. $5400 can be given directly to a Candidate's election committee ($2700 for the Primary and $2700 for the General election), and a conventional political action committee (PAC) can receive $5000 from an individual donor.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress campaign fund receipts for January 1,2017 to March 31, 2018
Dear Group, When the Spokesman periodically reports campaign contributions to McMorris Rodgers and Lisa Brown the numbers come from the Federal Election Commission (fec.gov). Donations and expenditures are supposed to be transparent. I suppose they actually are, but transparency is only useful if you look...and trying to understand the data at fec.gov is a time consuming and bewildering task. The balance sheet for CMR for Congress displayed above says volumes. Who does McMorris Rodgers serve? If you click "Itemized individual contributions" you'll find that 1368 unique individual contributions make up that 877K. For reference, Lisa Brown, in six months less time (just since July 1, 2017) has 1864 individual contributions totaling about the same amount of money, 834K. Clearly, Lisa has many more contributors but on average they contribute smaller sums. Then look at "Other committee contributions" for McMorris Rodgers. That $1,081,720 consists of 517 contributions from Political Action Committees. Click on the number on the page Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress and you can browse them. They are almost all corporate PACs. Names like BNSF, Comcast, AT&T, ConocoPhillips, and Halliburton are among those that pop out. Take note that Lisa Brown has announced she will decline money from corporate PACs. Then look at "TRANSFERS FROM OTHER AUTHORIZED COMMITTEES." There, properly filtered, you find 333 unique individual contributions, only 38 of which come from the whole of Washington State. 286 of the 333 are for more than $500. Hmmm. The highest number you see in the list is $2700. That's the legal maximum for a single election. It's hard to buy a lot of influence with $2700 in a field where there is so much money. We'll address that issue tomorrow when we look at the PAC through which these 333 contributions are funneled. The Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress campaign summary sheet above shows, with a bit of dissection, something around a million dollars in corporate PAC contributions and another nearly a half million in contributions that are mostly from folks outside of Washington State. That is more than half of the total balance sheet of $2.7 million. It will buy quite a lot. Remember, though, these are just the funds under McMorris Rodgers' direct control. This is the money she can deploy directly as the incumbent to pursue re-election. It is only a fraction of the money that will slosh around eastern Washington in the next six months on her behalf. How, if you have the extra money, do you manage to buy more influence? More tomorrow. Keep to the high ground, Jerry