Big Winners in Government Shutdown…Political Fundraisers

Wednesday, October 02, 2013
(graphic: AP)

A shutdown of the U.S. government does not mean a corresponding closure of political activity in Washington, DC—especially when it comes to fundraising.


If anything, the shuttering of federal operations—even just the threat of it last week—resulted in an upswing of phone calls, emails and social media messages asking liberals and conservatives to give money to partisan campaigns that have a stake in the budget battle and the funding of Obamacare.


The frenzy of fundraising currently taking place is different from the usual distribution of political dollars that lobbyists, trade associations and other special interest groups heap upon lawmakers to gain influence.


The groups burning up the phone lines and Internet channels to raise money are more ideologically polarizing, from Tea Party members pleading for help to support “true” conservatives, to left-wing organizations determined to help protect President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.


“Demonizing the opposition is central to the process” of raising campaign money in the current environment, Steven S. Smith, political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told The Los Angeles Times. “The more important the development in Washington, the easier it is to scare potential donors into handing over the cash.”


These days, established organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that have long enjoyed considerable influence among Republicans have taken a backseat to newer groups, like the Tea-Party oriented FreedomWorks, which has warned conservatives of “establishment” GOP members or “Obama Republicans” betraying their ideals and the need to replace them with true believers.


“We raise money to fight liberal policies and to elect true conservative leaders,” Matt Hoskins, executive director of Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), told Politico. “People donate because they believe in our mission and know that it takes money to win these fights.” SCR raised $1.5 million in August, the bulk of which came from its campaign to defund Obamacare. Mainstream Republican lawmakers have been highly critical of the group because of SCF’s strategy of targeting them.


On the left, there are those like Emily’s List, which supports pro-choice politicians, telling supporters to give money now, or else.


“Don't let the GOP take us back to the 1950s!” Emily’s List tweeted, referring to a House Republican proposal placed in a budget bill that would allow employers, on moral grounds, to exclude contraceptive coverage in company insurance plans.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Threat of Federal Shutdown is Windfall for Political Fundraisers (by Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times)

Why So Many Groups Are Making Money On The Government Shutdown (by Katy Steinmetz, Time)

As Government Shutdown Looms, Fundraising Zooms (by Anna Palmer, Politico)

76% of Political Fundraising Bashes Take Place within 3 Blocks of the U.S. Capitol (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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