Writings and observations

D.C. connections

Candidates for Congress stress any and all connections they have in the home district and shuffle off to the side their links to money and connections in D.C. But those money and connections often (not going to say always) play a big role in just how well a campaign comes together, and whether it ultimately wins, and what directions it takes (at campaign level, or in office).

So a blog post by former Boise City Council candidate Lucas Baumbach is worth note for some of the ties that might, or might not, come into play in the Idaho 1st district race.

Baumbach has had some issues with the 1st District Republican front runner, Vaughn Ward; his primary opponent is legislator Raul Labrador, and both are seeking to unseat incumbent Democrat Walt Minnick. In a look through Ward’s campaign finance reports, he frequent crossed the name of Erin Casey, a Washington-based fundraiser.

To pause here: Consulting fundraisers have in the last couple of decades become a big part of the scene for both political parties, and a lot candidates use them. (The distortions in politics their trade has led to, for both parties, are serious, but the subject of some other post.) Ward’s federal finance reports show his campaign paying her $17,570 last year (for fundraising), in monthly payments starting in late spring. Baumbach writes that “It’s clear that without her his campaign would be as broke as it was last April.” Maybe: Looking at the campaign from the outside, we’d suggest that’s impossible to know for sure.

But there are a couple of other things we do know.

Casey started her fundraising and events company last spring – just about the same time Ward hired her. A great leap of faith in a newcomer, perhaps. But her most recent job before that may also have been relevant: Before starting her company, she was director of special projects for the National Republican Senate Committee, and before that was field finance director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and before that was the NRCC director of finance events.

This falls into focus when you wonder about Ward’s early de-facto (if unofficial) endorsement by a number of key national leadership Republicans. The architecture of connections and funding were being built in from an early stage. Very early.

To pick up again with Erin Casey: A job or two before the NRCC, she was working on campaigns for former U.S. Representative Chris Chocola, R-Indiana. He is of interest here for this reason: In April of last year, he was named president of the Club for Growth, which was the key national group that helped power former Representative Bill Sali through his primary and general elections in 2006, when he won (but did not provide support in 2008, when he lost). The Washington Times has reported Chocola “has become the ‘go-to guy’ for endorsements and money for a growing clientele of fiscally conservative Republican candidates for Congress.” There’s been no visible link of Club for Growth to Ward’s campaign so far, but you wonder if it may be coming (some positive notes from them about Minnick notwithstanding).

Sali, we might note again, has not publicly ruled out a race again in the 1st, but has made no active moves toward it, either.

All of this is only part of the story. But a relevant part.

QUOTE OF NOTE In rummaging through the web record, we ran across an interview Casey gave with National Journal magazine, and this Q&A: “If you could only watch one TV news show, what would it be? None – I prefer to read news clips and stories online than watch the news shows. All the TV shows seems to slant one way or the other.” Bravo. Take her counsel: With uncommon exceptions, most news on the tube isn’t worth watching.

Share on Facebook