This is one campaign contribution that's sure to make the bookish Sen. Chuck Schumer blush.
New York's senior senator netted $500 from late-night talk host Robin Byrd in his latest round of fundraising, according to a published report. As many horndogs and insomniacs know, Byrd, a first-time Schumer donor, is notorious as the host of "The Robin Byrd Show," a public-access cable show, featuring naked dancers and salacious ads, that's been running on the Manhattan public access TV for nearly 30 years.
While the gift comes from an uncommon contributor in the political realm (Byrd is also a former porn actress – remember "Debbie Does Dallas"?) it underscores Schumer's ability to appeal to potential donors across the spectrum, according to political observers. More donors means more reach and more money – and in an age where formerly reliable contributors may be holding on tighter to their cash, that's important.
"It's probably a healthy sign that he can raise money from a broad spectrum of America, not just guys in white shirts – hopefully with their shirts on," Baruch College's Doug Muzzio told the Daily News.
A Schumer spokesman was quick to tell the News that Byrd attended a public fundraising event that was also attended by the Democratic senator and his wife, former New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall.
"She was among a large crowd at a widely attended [fund-raising] event," spokesman Brian Fallon told the News. "Neither Sen. Schumer nor his wife, who also attended, even knew who she was."
Byrd isn't the only somewhat famous donor to supplement Schumer's warchest. The senator has also gotten nearly $5,000 from Baltimore Orioles owner and Democratic party donor Peter Angelos, and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has pitched in $2,000, reports the News. Oh, and current NFL Roger Goodell and his predecessor, Ronald Sugar, have each shelled out money for Schumer's 2010 campaign.
Schumer has gotten some flak because a substantial amount of campaign contributions comes from the financial industry and he writes a lot of financial legislation. But Fallon told the News that the senator doesn't do any special favors for anyone who contributes– from the high-rolling Wall Street donors who've given him more than $1 million for his 2010 campaign to the more modest contributors like Byrd -- and he's transparent about where the money comes from.
That's important from a voter's perspective.
"Anytime a politician accepts money from an interest group, his constituents should certainly have the right and ability to post questions," Dave Levinthal of the Center for Responsive Politics told the News.
Schumer has recently tackled bank's outrageous overdraft fees -- a sign he isn't afraid to hit the banking industry where it hurts.
All together, Schumer has raised $8.8 million in the 2005-2010 fundraising cycle, according to campaign finance records. His top contributors have been donors in the securities and investment industry and lawyers and law firms. And he's already got $16.6 million in the bank on top of the cash he's been raising.
Not a bad start for a 2010 campaign.