Boehner, other top GOP leaders donate millions to NRCC


House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), accompanied by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), on Capitol Hill last December. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senior House Republicans announced plans Tuesday to provide millions of dollars in campaign cash to help shore up the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is lagging behind its Democratic counterpart in fundraising so far this year.

Republicans are set to hold on to control of the House and likely expand their majority, but House Democrats have raised more campaign money than House Republicans this year thanks to help from President Obama and a growing base of small-dollar donors.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraised the NRCC $7.3 million to $6 million during the month of May, according to the most recent fundraising reports. The DCCC ended the month with $45.9 million in the bank; the NRCC had $35.2 million.

Seeking to quickly close the gap -- and fill the void created by the stunning primary defeat of outgoing Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) -- House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) announced plans Tuesday to transfer $1.5 million from his personal campaign accounts to the NRCC. The donations take Boehner's total contributions to his GOP colleagues to $17 million so far this cycle -- more than any other House Republican.

Boehner formally announced his intentions during his weekly closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers. News of the donations was first reported by USA Today. The donations are another signal that Boehner has no plans to step down as speaker soon and is instead seeking to consolidate his support by generously sharing his ability to raise significant campaign cash.

"I told my colleagues two weeks ago I’m all in. And when I’m all in, I’m all in," Boehner told reporters Tuesday morning when he was asked about the donations.

But Boehner isn't the only top Republican shoring up the party's campaign coffers. With Cantor, a vociferous fundraiser, stepping down in the coming weeks, other senior Republicans stepped up Tuesday to fill the void.

Incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) delivered a check for $1.5 million to the NRCC, while House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) also handed over $1 million each, according to aides familiar with Tuesday's meeting. The donations from Ryan and Hensarling are especially notable, not only because it demonstrates that they can raise big money, but also that they're seeking to maintain their support among colleagues for possible future bids for House leadership posts.

According to a person familiar with the meeting, incoming House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said he would personally donate $5,000 as part of a push to help cover the NRCC dues of Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), who is recovering from brain surgery. Scalise lacks the national fundraising network enjoyed by other colleagues with influential committee chairmanships or leadership posts.

The big donations should help allay the concerns of rank-and-file Republicans, some of whom said last week that McCarthy and Scalise especially need to quickly devote considerable time and resources to shoring up the party's funds.

“People need to get to work," Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a close friend and ally of Boehner, told The Washington Post last week, adding later: "We’re going to leave good candidates on the field with no money if we don’t get to work. any of this in-fighting is really detrimental to our chances in November."

Asked who would need to step up to help fill the financial void, Nunes said: "It’s gotta be Kevin, gotta be Steve, but it’s really got to be the conference as whole. When the DCCC is raising money online and all our online money is going to fill people's pocketbooks that aren’t involved in any races, they’re just saying, give to us because we’re the most conservative, they’re not running on any ideas, they’re running on continued fracture in the Republican Party."

Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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