Before we even get to the Hawaii angle, here’s the obligatory link to WaPo’s story this morning about how both national committees — yes, the sainted DNC too — burn through mountains of donor cash on things like limos, airfare, luxury hotels and, ahem, “office supplies” and “tips.” How much cash are we talking about? Enough to make the average nonprofit director, who typically devotes 20-25 percent or so of the organization’s funds to overhead and fundraising, faint dead away:
The two parties assert that to raise money, they must spend it, and both have long used donated funds to court and pamper prospective donors with luxurious getaways and gifts.
The nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, in an analysis done at the request of The Post, calculated, however, that administrative and fundraising expenses consumed about $60 million of Democratic revenue in this cycle through the end of February, or 59 percent of total revenue that exceeded $100 million. For Republicans, the amount exceeded $74 million, or 68 percent of $109 million in revenue…
“There is a class of [political] donors who expect to be wined and dined and who expect to have gala receptions as part and parcel of giving a donation,” said Anthony J. Corrado, a Colby College professor specializing in campaign finance. But he said many current expenditures “are not the type that are going to translate into a large financial boon . . . such as spending on charter flights, limousines, entertainment, food and beverages at party headquarters.”
The DNC’s spokesman responded to the story with the standard “you have to spend money to make money” line. The RNC’s spokesman simply didn’t respond (to “most questions,” at least, according to WaPo). Which brings us to Hawaii:
According to FEC reports filed late Tuesday, the RNC spent $167K on facilities for the 3-day meeting, which took place at a posh resort in Waikiki. That figure doesn’t include rooms and office space for the party employees who staffed the meeting, which added up to at least another $90K.
At least 33 RNC staffers and officials made the trip to HI, including top members of the political, communications and research departments, as first reported by Hotline OnCall. Party staff were reimbursed for meals and travel as part of the trip…
The amount the RNC spent in HI is likely to eclipse the amount the national committee will spend on a crucial special election to replace ex-Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D) next month. Abercrombie quit to pursue a GOV bid; in his place, 2 prominent Dems and a strong GOP candidate are running in a May 22 winner-take-all election.
Why whine about this when the DNC is almost, if not quite, as bad? Well (a) as noted by Hotline, there are potential special-election upsets that this cash could have been spent on instead; (b) the three Democratic fundraising committees all outraised their GOP counterparts last month, so money is more of a crunch for our side; (c) dumping money into exotic vacations is not only poor politics during a major recession, it’s poisonous for a party trying to reclaim the mantle of fiscal responsibility; and (d) as noted in the post title, they typically hold this meeting in D.C. In fact, Cantor unloaded on Steele in January, before the new scrutiny related to the “Voyeur” bar tab started, for wasting money on a “beach resort” when House Republicans were content to have their winter meeting in Baltimore. No expensive airfare needed for staffers, no hotel rooms, no restaurant budgets: When you’ve got a home base in the capital, makes sense to take advantage of it, no? It used to.
The latest poll in that Hawaiian special election, incidentally: Djou (R) 32, Case (D) 28, Hanabusa (D) 27. A huge upset, if it happens.