In the closing 96 hours of campaign 2014, big donors pumped more than $4 million into the coffers of candidates for House seats around the country, a Sunlight analysis of last-minute donations reported to the Federal Election Commission shows.
The fundraising reported since Friday consist of contributions of $1,000 and up to House candidates. The FEC requires such donations to be reported within 48 hours in the closing three weeks of a campaign. Senate records are not available because the Senate exempts itself from the FEC’s electronic filing requirement.
The biggest beneficiaries are two incumbents who suddenly have found themselves in tighter-than-expected races:
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, who has been the target of more than $2 million in expenditures by the upstart Mayday PAC. Upton reported $54,500 in contributions between Friday and Monday, with much of the money coming from firms (and their lobbyists) that he helps to regulate, though he also reported a $2,000 donation from the Marijuana Policy Project.
- Steven Horsford, a first-term Democrat representing sprawling district in Nevada. Horsford’s weekend haul of $62,100 included donations from Democratic-aligned political action committees and congressional colleagues. The national party, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, has parachuted in to support Horsford against his surging Republican challenger
Other House candidates reporting large, late contributions included those in tight races, but also some veterans who are shoo-ins. In those cases, key committee assignments or the possibility of climbing the leadership or committee ladders next year appear to be attracting donors.
Top 10 recipients of weekend donations
For a complete list of the last-minute contribution recipients, click here.
A variety of PACs representing corporations, unions and trade groups shouldered the bulk of the late-fundraisers financial burden. PACs made more than $2.5 million in contributions to House members since Halloween, compared to $1.5 million from individuals over that same period.
Much of that cash has been concentrated on the nail-biters and leadership climbers we noted above. A six-figure check to a member in need could be a valuable chit when it comes time for Congress to draft next year’s tax proposals or labor laws.
Top 10 PAC givers of weekend donations
All five of the top PAC givers represent large corporations, though plenty of unions have answered the call of troubled Democratic campaigns, including the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which clocked in at number six on our list, giving $25,000 to Democrats, and $5,000 to Republican Lou Barletta, a senior member of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. LIUNA has been a major proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Home Depot’s Washington office has also been particularly busy in the final days before election 2014; the home supply giant’s PAC gave more to House campaigns than any other committee in that time period.
Like many corporate givers, the group doesn’t play one side of the ideological spectrum: It gave $5,000 to Democrats Steven Horsford in Nevada and Ami Bera in California, both of whom face tight races, but also chipped in for Republicans: $5,000 to Fred Upton in Michigan and Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Washington state. McMorris Rodgers is not in serious danger of an upset but may have ambitions of climbing the ranks of Republican leadership. She’s fundraised with party heavyweights like Speaker John Boehner and former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, data collected by Political Party Time shows.
Not all big players follow those patterns, however. Verizon’s Good Government Group (the employee-funded political action committee) dished out $6,500 among four California Democrats over the weekend — Reps. Tony Cardenas, Karen Bass and Jim Costa and newcomer Norma Torres none of whom face a particularly daunting general election or appear likely to move up in leadership soon.
Individuals also gave big. Some notable large last-minute donors:
- Oren and Yasim Lukatz: Yasmin Lukatz is the daughter of Miriam Adelson, who along with her husband Sheldon (Yasmin’s stepfather), gave more than $90 million to Republican candidates and causes in 2012. Lukatz and her husband donated $26,000 over the weekend to five Republican House candidates, each of whom got $5,200 from the couple: Cresent Hardy, a Republican state lawmaker who is challenging Horsford in the Nevada race; Rep. Lee Terry, who is fighting to hold onto his seat in Nebraska; New York state Sen. Lee Zeldin, who is trying to unseat Rep. Tim Bishop on Long Island; Bob Dold, trying to win back the House seat he lost two years ago to Democrat Brad Schneider, and Carlos Curbelo, a Miami businessman trying to unseat Rep. Joe Garcia in south Florida.
- Tennessee businessman Andrew Miller, who according to a local newspaper, invested with GOP conservative star Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, in a luxury Alaska fishing lodge. FEC records indicate Miller donated $15,000 to Nan Hayworth, who is trying to win back the upstate New York seat she lost two years ago to Democrat Sean Maloney. The amount of Miller’s contribution, if correct, is over the legal limit that an individual may give a single candidate; Sunlight is attempting to contact both Miller and the Hayworth campaign and will update this post if needed.
- Robert Reynolds, president and CEO of Putnam Investments: Together with Laura Reynolds, who lists the same address, Reynolds made a last minute contribution of $5,200 to Frank Guinta, a New Hampshire Republican trying to win back the seat he lost in 2012 to Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. Over the weekend, Robert Reynolds also donated $2,600 to Massachusetts Republican Richard Tisei running in a toss-up race for an open House seat, and $5,200 to John Chapman, who worked in former Gov. Mitt Romney’s administration. Chapman is trying to unseat Democratic Rep. William Keating in eastern Massachusetts.