Flipped Fortunes: GOP Rakes in Fundraising Cash

A surprise in political contributions

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Are the rumors of Michael Steele's imminent demise somewhat exaggerated?

Perhaps. Despite his several missteps during his first month as RNC chairman, his early fundraising, it turns out, isn't that bad. Indeed, it's actually pretty much in line with what a party out of power brings in during the first couple months of a new term. Indeed, the RNC's cumulative finances are the best of all political committees.

Conversely, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, well, he has some serious 'splaining to do. How does the chairman of the party controlling the White House raise an anemic $3.3 million in the first full month that his party controls the White House? Admittedly, he is only currently a part-time chairman, as he finishes up his final year as governor of Virginia (an arrangement that is already causing Democrats some heartburn).

But, it's almost impossible to raise that small an amount given the incredible advantages the Democrats have:

  • Holding the White House for the first time in eight years;
  • Having won the presidency with more than 50 percent of the vote for the first time in 32 years.
  • The other party forcefully repudiated in consecutive elections.

But this fundraising non-haul is even more perplexing when one fully understands the dynamics of party fundraising.

Traditionally, the national party organization is taken over by many veterans of the presidential campaign. This is is especially true of the fundraisers. Considering the record amounts of money that the Obama campaign brought in, why wouldn't the party have similar success drawing from the Obama donor list?

That question forces other, more troubling ones, to be asked: For example, is the Obama political team sharing its donor list with the DNC? If it is, why are the results so poor? If it's not, why not?

Of these questions, a long-time GOP fundraising observer idly speculates:

"One also has to ask "What the hell did the DNC do during the biggest, boldest, most expensive Inauguration of all time!!????? Did Obama's people take all the Inaugural money for themselves???? For just the Inaugural Committee??? Did the DNC not have a semi-[inaugural-related] Gala???? How could that be?? [Based on Republican post-inaugural experience,] follow-up calls and chasing checks goes on for weeks after events. There should have been some spillover from the Inaugural deposited into February [accounts]. Another thought is that now that Hillary Clinton is at State Dept. where are the Clinton Rolodex of donors going?? Clearly, they are not being contacted by the DNC yet. A third thought: The DNC has safeguards on taking illegal online donations that the Obama campaign did not. It will be interesting to see if that changes after this disgraceful first month of fundraising."

Of those notions, the last is the most intriguing. Beyond possible problems with Tim Kaine, would future months with measly results create renewed media speculation on the clarity (i.e. legality) of the Obama campaign's donation track record?

Meanwhile, after a few rocky weeks, Michael Steele suddenly woke up leading an almost-charmed life.

Robert A. George is a New York writer.  He blogs at Ragged Thots. 

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