The Washington Post

Congress isn’t pounding the pavement for campaign cash

J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Members of Congress will typically bend over backwards to feed the never-satisfied maw of their campaign war chests. They’ll shake sweaty hands, pose for awkward pictures and make countless pleading calls. But what they won’t do, apparently, is walk more than three blocks.

According to a new analysis by the Sunlight Foundation of five years of fundraising data, about three-quarters of fundraisers happen within a checkbook’s throw (make that three blocks) of the Capitol. To be fair, Washington weather is often brutal, with its crushing humidity half the year, slushy rain in the winter, etc. So we can hardly blame our well-coiffed and loafer-shod lawmakers for not wanting to pound the pavement too often.

Strap on those pedometers, people, because we’re talking a five-minute stroll: Also interesting in the Sunlight report is the list of most-popular fundraiser venues. Proving the adage that the important draws for a business are location, location, and location, the top locales include near-to-the-Dome restaurants Johnny’s Half Shell, Charlie Palmer Steak and Bistro Bis.

Far and away the most-used joint, though, is the Capitol Hill Club, which essentially functions as the GOP’s clubhouse. It hosted a whopping 1,966 fundraisers of the nearly 14,000 that the foundation cataloged.

We should also note that of the top fundraising sites, the most bipartisan is Charlie Palmer Steak, which hosts a near-even split of Republican and Democratic events. Juicy rib-eyes, it seems are one thing both parties can agree on.

And perhaps Republicans don’t prefer French food: The tony Bistro Bis attracts mostly Dems, with 71 percent of its fundraisers for Democrats and only 21 percent for Republicans.


Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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