Reps. Frank Pallone and Anna Eshoo continue to dole out contributions to their colleagues in hopes of bolstering their own chances at landing the top Democratic slot on the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Energy and Commerce has principal authority over healthcare legislation. It, and of course its ranking member, will play crucial roles in any efforts to amend or replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
in the next Congress.
The current ranking minority member of the committee, Rep. Henry Waxman of California, is retiring, as is Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, the Democrat with the most seniority on the panel.
“Energy and Commerce has 40% of the U.S. economy,” said Stephen Ryan, head of the government strategies practice group at the law firm McDermott Will & Emery. “It's probably one of the three most important committees in the sense of traditional analysis of where people want to be.”
Pallone's campaign committee has made $81,000 in contributions to 40 House candidates during the second quarter of the year, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission
. That's up slightly from the first quarter when Pallone's campaign contributed $68,000 to 44 candidates.
Pallone is serving his 13th term representing his New Jersey district and has the most seniority of the remaining members of the committee. He currently serves as the ranking minority member of the Subcommittee on Health.
Eshoo's campaign also ramped up its political contributions in the second quarter of the year. The 11-term California incumbent contributed $46,000 to 20 House candidates. That was up from just $8,800 in contributions to four candidates in the first quarter, according to her campaign's FEC filing
. But in February, Eshoo's campaign also contributed $125,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the principal organization seeking to bolster the success of Democratic House candidates.
Eshoo and Pallone's largesse isn't confined to their campaign committees. Both legislators also have leadership PACs that they've used to ingratiate themselves to their colleagues and Democratic challengers.
Pallone's Shore PAC distributed nearly $100,000 to Democratic House candidates in the first five months of 2014. In addition, it cut a $15,000 check to the DCCC.
Eshoo's Peninsula PAC was established in February, about the same time that she announced her candidacy
for the ranking member post. In its first three months of operations, it contributed $54,800 to House candidates.
Both PACs file monthly reports with the FEC. Their reports for June are due July 20.
Eshoo and Pallone spread their contributions among current members and Democratic challengers. Many target contests that Democratic leaders have identified as crucial races in seeking to at least narrow the Republican majority, if not win back control of the House.
For example, both cut checks for the campaign of Domenic Recchia Jr., who is challenging embattled GOP Rep. Michael Grimm
in a New York district that includes parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Eshoo is a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which could bolster her prospects despite having less tenure in the House than Pallone. In a previous battle for the Energy and Commerce gavel, prior to Republicans winning control of the House in 2010, Waxman successfully challenged Dingell
for the chairmanship. Although Pelosi officially stayed neutral in the contest, she was widely viewed as a key Waxman ally.
Ryan cautioned that political contributions alone won't win this committee contest for either candidate. “A member's track record with their colleagues of caring about them and being their friend is way more important than any political contributions,” he said. “Both of these people have friends throughout the House on both sides of the aisle.” Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko