From Florida to Montana, Fundraising Politicians Get Creative

By Beacon Staff

The Associated Press’ Alan Fram wrote a piece this week on how politicians are getting creative in raising money from would-be donors who may be pinched by the economy. Despite the off election year, Fram reports that members of Congress are blasting out e-mails soliciting money in exchange for some authentic buddy time.

Though it’s early in a non-election year, politicians and special interests are blasting out daily e-mails by the truckload, beckoning lobbyists and other would-be donors to fundraisers ranging from the mundane to the exotic. A look at scores of them, provided by recipients, shows they share a straightforward message: Members of Congress would like your help getting in re-elected, and contributors can spend time with them.

Spend a day on the Rio Grande and eat at a Tex-Mex restaurant with Rep. Jeb Hansarling, R-Texas. Watch a Philadelphia Phillies spring training game with Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa. And in Montana, how about some golf and fishing. From the AP:

“Enjoy fly fishing on the world-renowned Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone rivers during peak salmon fly hatch season, or golf the scenic 18-hole par 72 golf course designed by Arnold Palmer,” says an invitation for a June 19-21 fundraiser for Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. The same invitation offers a second event July 31-Aug. 2: “Camp Baucus is a trip for the whole family. Bring everyone to enjoy Big Sky’s fly fishing, golf, horseback riding and great hiking.”

By no means does this suggest Baucus is unique in his fundraising efforts. And I assume that his Montana colleagues, Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg and Democrat Sen. Jon Tester, use similar personalized pitches to raise money. The story does, however, show a side of Washington many of us never see. Like how Sen. Arlen Specter lured contributors on St. Patrick’s Day:

“Help us make our opponent green with envy!” says one touting “$enator Arlen $pecter’s” event held St. Patrick’s Day. The invitation for Specter, R-Pa., also featured an outsized picture of a $500 bill, the suggested contribution for individuals, and added, “We have set a very ambitious goal of raising $1 million this quarter, and really need your help to hit that.”

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