Hispanic Lawmakers Eschew DCCC Dues

Kathleen Hunter, CQ Politics News, October 3, 2010

Congressional Hispanic Caucus members are among the stingiest House Democrats when it comes to party giving.

All but one of the CHC’s 23 members had yet to meet their Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee obligations for the cycle, leaving close to $3 million in outstanding dues; a handful of Members had given nothing at all as of Aug. 24, according to a DCCC dues tally. Since then, two others–CHC Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez (N.Y.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas)–have paid in full, according to the DCCC.

Party dues for the cycle range from $800,000 for top party leaders to $125,000 for rank-and file Members. Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) is the only CHC member who had paid his dues in full, according to the document. Becerra met his $450,000 DCCC goal and raised close to $1 million more for the campaign committee and for Democrats in competitive races.

Some Hispanic lawmakers cited the challenging political and economic environment as the reason for their scant giving, while others said they are frustrated with the lack of progress on comprehensive immigration reform. Those Members said they don’t want their campaign dollars funding Democrats who have blocked progress on an overhaul.

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Baca [Rep. Joe Baca (Calif.)] said he wanted to ensure his money went directly to those candidates and incumbents who support comprehensive reform.

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CHC members are not the only Democrats who have failed to meet their dues obligations over the two-year period–186 Democratic Members have yet to pay in full. But the group has had a history of strained relations with the DCCC. Hispanic lawmakers have been frustrated in the past when Democratic leaders, including former DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), supported vulnerable Democrats who they say side with Republicans on anti-immigrant legislation.

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And CHC members were furious in 2005 when then-DCCC Chairman Emanuel and other Democratic leaders urged vulnerable Frontline Democrats to vote for a GOP proposal designed to crack down on illegal immigrants.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose leadership position rests on the outcome of the midterm elections, has been cracking the whip on delinquent dues payers, urging them in letters and in person to open their wallets.

Another Democratic strategist noted that many CHC members have histories of not paying their dues. The strategist said it’s “ridiculous” for CHC members to say they need to worry about their own electoral prospects.

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“We aren’t going to be able to pass the sort of bills that many people in this Caucus would like to see passed if we have fewer Members, so let’s put off any internal issues that we may have on particular bills and legislation until next Congress,” the strategist said.

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