Bloomberg News

Boehner Slow to Aid New York Party Backers: BGOV Barometer

January 04, 2013

The House Republicans’ fundraising committee collected $1 of every $8 in large individual contributions for the 2012 elections from residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, before their party’s leader stalled disaster aid for the region.

The BGOV Barometer shows about 13 percent of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s funds from donors of more than $200 would be at stake if contributors in the three states took the advice of Republican Representative Peter King of New York and kept their checkbooks shut, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by Bloomberg. Residents of those three states contributed $3.9 million in amounts greater than $200 to the NRCC for the 2012 elections.

“Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican congressional campaign committee should have their head examined,” King said Jan. 2 on CNN’s “Newsroom,” a day after Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, blocked the House from voting on $60 billion in federal aid to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Lawmakers Vote

King backed off those remarks yesterday after Boehner scheduled votes on the aid. The House today increased the borrowing authority for the government flood insurance program by $9.7 billion, allowing it to continue paying damage claims, and the Senate unanimously cleared the measure. A House vote on another $33 billion is scheduled for Jan. 15.

By taking aim at New York area campaign donors, King was targeting the biggest source of contributions of over $200 to the NRCC. Donors in the New York City metropolitan area gave more money to the NRCC than any other region, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign donations. Eight of the nine zip codes where the most donations came from were in the New York metropolitan area; the exception being Palm Beach, Florida.

New York state, in particular, is a top target of campaign fundraisers. For the 2012 elections, its residents gave $2.3 million to the House Republican campaign committee, $5.2 million to the Senate Republicans’ fundraising arm, $5.3 million to the Republican National Committee and $38.3 million to the joint fundraising committee for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the RNC and state parties.

Cash Trove

“National parties fund raise in New York for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks: That’s where the money is,” said Peter Brusoe, campaign finance analyst for Bloomberg Government. “New Yorkers as a state may vote for the Democratic Party, but there are New Yorkers who are willing to open their checkbooks when the national parties come calling.”

King said yesterday that his state and its neighbors had a right to expect congressional Republicans to come to their aid, if they wanted his continued support.

“When you’re in a political party, you give a deference to your party, give them the benefit of the doubt on certain votes with the assurance when you need help, your district needs help, the party will be there for you,” King said on CNN. “Since the party wasn’t for me Tuesday night, not for me, my district, my constituents, for the entire region, then I was going to look very skeptically at votes in the future.”

He explained his earlier comments as “shock therapy” on NBC’s “Today” yesterday.

“If we did not get this aid, this would be disastrous for the people of New York,” King said on NBC. “This wasn’t some special gimmick we were looking for. This is life and death. I have people in my district living in the back of cars, living in dilapidated homes.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net.


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