Biden likes well-timed reunions

Vice President Biden is rousing the troops again.

He may have raised an eyebrow or two a couple of months ago when he hopped onto a conference call to touch base with many of the hundreds of his former Senate, vice-presidential and campaign staff members.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

As we reported, he just wanted to say “Hi, howahya” to everybody. Biden spoke for a few minutes, saying that he’d wanted to do something like that for a couple of years and that he was sorry he hadn’t been able to keep up with everyone. (It was a one-way chat; the callers were on mute.)

The call was organized via a Democratic National Committee e-mail invite from Biden counselor Greg Schultz. He had been Ohio state director for the Obama-Biden reelection campaign and was Ohio deputy political director in 2008.

Sure, we were suspicious, but we figured Biden was just being friendly.

But more eyebrows are likely to be raised by the latest “save the date” invite to Biden alumni from Schultz. This one is for a Sept. 16 gathering of former Biden aides in both Delaware and here in Washington. The venue and other details are coming soon, Schultz advised.

“This will be a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet other Biden Alumni from over the years,” Schultz said, reminding everyone to fill out updated contact info.

Well, after watching the disastrous Hillary Clinton memoir launch and surveying the rest of the Democratic field, Biden — who’s run for president twice before — might well be expected to be doing some preliminary work now.

Not that that’s what he’s doing, of course.

Where the money is

Labor Day weekend is over, which means one thing to political junkies: The fall campaign season kicks into high gear.

Specifically, candidates and committees tap into all that cash they’ve raised over the past two years to inundate the airwaves with advertising for the final two-month stretch (yes, even more than they already have).

And in this midterm election, mega-donors are digging even deeper into their bank accounts.

With so much money influencing the political process, the Loop has taken to slicing and dicing how the very wealthy direct their campaign spending.

Last month we broke down who the richest person in every state donates to, and then to which party the very wealthiest in the country steer their political contributions. This led us to another question: Where, geographically, is most of the political money concentrated?

What we found shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. The lion’s share of political money originates on the coasts, particularly in California and New York, which is common every cycle. These are also popular destination spots for top-dollar fundraisers. But seeing it illustrated underscores just how acutely politics is influenced by a select few in elite pockets of the country.

The top individual donor so far this election cycle is Tom Steyer, who has given $20 million to Democrats. The total includes money given to “federal candidates, parties, political action committees, 527 organizations, super PACs,” according to an analysis from OpenSecrets.org.

Steyer is from San Francisco. Twenty-five of the top 100 donors live in California.

The second-biggest campaign contributor is former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has given $9.5 million, mostly to Democratic candidates, causes and organizations. He’s one of 22 top donors who hail from his state.

The third-biggest spender is also a donor to Democrats. Fred Eychaner, founder of Newsweb Corp., lives in Chicago and has given $5.6 million to Democrats and related groups.

As we discovered in our other two Loop money-in-politics analyses, there tend to be more donors to Republicans, but the donors to Democrats have the deepest pockets.

But remember these donors are people who disclose their political spending, so it does not include individuals who give to groups such as Americans for Prosperity, the conservative nonprofit advocacy organization that doesn’t have to report its donors. So while Democratic top contributors are giving generously to super PACs that disclose their contributors, it’s impossible to know which party really has the most financial support because of all the “dark money” groups.

No granola, or paychecks

Want to help outgoing Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) stick it to House leadership for his final months in Congress?

The conservative firebrand is seeking unpaid interns this fall, but he has very specific criteria to receive the honor of sharing office space with “the House’s most unique and courageous conservative.”

Stockman will measure your worth on ideology, patriotism and ability “to count up to 17 in trillions.” And if you see House Speaker John Boehner in the halls, pretend you don’t even recognize him. Stockman doesn’t want some GOP fanboy kissing up to leadership. “Mushy pleasers/appeasers keep walkin’, ” says the job posting, which includes an e-mail address for Stockman’s intern coordinator.

Still confused about the qualifications? The ad posted on the GOP Job Bank Web site last week under the ambiguous “Texas Representative” makes crystal clear who should not be applying for this short-term assignment:

“HINT: vapid granolas who fear guns, hate babies, are ashamed of America, and think Islamic terrorists and illegal aliens are just misunderstood will not be comfortable here.”

Stockman lost a Senate primary to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), in March, giving up his House seat in the process. But for a few more months (and about two weeks of actual legislative “work”), some lucky kids can work with a member described by staff as “not a jerk.” (House leadership may disagree.) And he doesn’t hate interns either, unlike so many grumpy congressmen. He “loves them and actually speaks to them” (!).

So if you want to help Stockman block Boehner and company a few more times for posterity (and help pack boxes), just send the office some “personal materials” and make your case.

— With Colby Itkowitz

Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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