Gay GOP luminaries fuel DeMaio fundraising vehicle

Gay GOP luminaries fuel DeMaio fundraising vehicle

While Republican Carl DeMaio trails Rep. Scott Peters in fundraising from PACs, he’s relied on an altogether different vehicle for nearly $150,000 in contributions: joint fundraising committees (JFCs).

And much of his JFC money is coming from big names in the GOP gay rights movement.

Joint fundraising committees are created by two or more candidates, PACs or party committees that share the cost of fundraising and split the proceeds.

No candidate can accept more than the regular contribution limit of $5,200 per election cycle from a donor to the JFC, but since candidates are splitting the cost of fundraising, it’s a more cost-effective way to solicit contributions from the wealthiest of donors. Instead of two candidates each going to a donor and asking for separate $5,200 checks, the JFC the candidates have formed can go to that donor and ask for a single $10,400 check.

DeMaio participates in two joint fundraising committees.

One, Equality Leadership Fund, has funneled $143,075 to DeMaio’s coffers since it was formed in October of 2013.

Equality Leadership Fund is an exclusive club with membership limited to just two candidates: Carl DeMaio and Massachusetts Republican Richard Tisei.

Tisei, who nearly knocked off a Democratic incumbent in 2012, is, like DeMaio, openly gay.

Campaign spokesman Dave McCulloch said Tisei was a natural fundraising buddy for DeMaio.

“Carl thinks that Richard is going to be a good partner in Congress, and this is just one more example of Carl building coalitions of people to get stuff done — to build reform,” McCulloch said.

The committee’s built a donor base of gay GOP luminaries.

Among them:

  • Ken Mehlman: Mehlman was campaign manager for President George Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign and later served as chairman of the Republican National Committee between 2005 and 2007. He came out as gay in 2010, saying that he planned to advocate for marriage rights for same-sex couples. Mehlman’s made four contributions totalling $7,000 to Equality Leadership Fund.
  • Paul Singer: Singer is the founder and CEO of hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation. A major donor to many conservative causes, Singer — while not gay himself — has broken with GOP orthodoxy on gay marriage, contributing $1.8 million to a super PAC created to push Republican politicians to back gay marriage. Singer contributed $5,200 to the Fund in December of last year.
  • Friends of Mark Foley for Congress: Foley, a former GOP congressman, was forced to resign his south Florida seat in September of 2006 after sending sexually explicit internet messages to congressional pages. Foley, who soon after came out as both gay and a victim of childhood sexual abuse, was later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. Foley never closed his federal campaign account, which contributed $2,000 to the Fund in March.
  • Friends of Mike Fleck: Fleck attracted national attention when the four-term Republican member of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives came out as gay at the end of 2012. His campaign committee contributed $1,000 to the Fund in December of last year.
  • LCR PAC: The political action committee of the Log Cabin Republicans contributed $500 to the Fund in December of last year. The LCR advocates for the election of pro-gay rights Republicans. The PAC has also contributed $1,125 directly to DeMaio’s campaign.
  • Broward Log Cabin Club: The Broward County, Florida affiliate of the national Log Cabin Republicans contributed $250 to the Fund in March.

While McCulloch stressed that DeMaio has a broad base of donors, he acknowledged that Equality Leadership Fund offered an attractive vehicle for those interested in supporting pro-LGBT rights Republicans.

“I’d say that Carl’s support of LGBT issues stands strong, and I’d say that he’s willing to work with different coalitions of people to further that and it seems to be that people are receptive to Carl’s ideas [about LGBT equality],” McCulloch said.

The second joint fundraising committee has been far less important to DeMaio’s fundraising bottom line but it illustrates a new trend in political giving.

Unlike Equality Leadership Fund, with just two beneficiaries, Young Guns Day II 2014 has many congressional mouths to feed.

The committee is a JFC between 11 GOP congressional candidates (DeMaio among them) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

The NRCC is a party-run committee whose sole purpose is to support GOP candidates for the House of Representatives.

Young Guns Day II was formed on June 26, 2014. The next day, it received a $55,000 contribution from the National Republican Congressional Committee. Three days after that — the final day of the second-quarter reporting period — the JFC distributed between $4,000 and $4,500 to each of the 11 GOP congressional candidates. DeMaio received $4,132.

The committee is noteworthy because it wouldn’t have been legal prior to March’s McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down limits on aggregate contributions. Previously, joint fundraising committees could have no more than nine affiliated candidates.

Democrat Peters is also the beneficiary of a joint fundraising committee, though hasn’t raised any money since 2013. The Barber-Peters Victory Fund has only sent $4,800 to its beneficiaries — $2,400 each to Peters and Rep. Ron Barber of Arizona.

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About Joe Yerardi:

Joe Yerardi
Joe Yerardi is a freelance data journalist for inewsource, where he worked between 2013 and 2016 as an investigative reporter and data specialist. To contact him with questions, tips or corrections, email joe.yerardi@gmail.com.