Congressman Charles Bass, R-N.H., is the only one of New Hampshire’s major candidates for Congress getting more money from political action committees than from individuals.
Federal Election Commission campaign finance records compiled through Sept. 30 show that of the $1.8 million raised by Bass, about 64 percent is from PACs and 34 percent from individuals.
The Republican incumbent’s Democratic opponent in the 2nd Congressional District, Anne McLane Kuster, reported about 83 percent of her $2.6 million came from individual contributions and 16 percent from PACs.
“Annie is proud to be running a grassroots campaign powered by thousands of New Hampshire voters who know that Annie will be a voice for middle class families and seniors,” Kuster campaign spokesman Rob Friedlander said yesterday. “Unlike Congressman Bass, Annie has the advantage of not being a career politician who is dependent on corporate PAC money to fuel his campaign. People are fed up with this Congress and want to elect an outsider like Annie who will fight for middle class families, not special interests.”
The Bass campaign saw it differently.
“Charlie Bass has a lot of support from a lot of people, but also a lot of companies and PACs that represent people,” Bass campaign spokesman Scott Tranchemontage said. “It is a fact of politics that candidates who are incumbents almost always raise more PAC money than challengers.”
Kuster’s contributions, both from PACs and individuals, are revealing, Tranchemontagne maintains.
“She is backed by very liberal, progressive organizations,” he said.
Those donations also come from around the country, he said.
“For them, there are no borders,” Tranchemontagne said.
In the 1st Congressional District, both candidates are reporting more money from individuals than PACs.
Congressman Frank Guinta, R-N.H., reported about 54 percent of his $1.6 million came from individuals, 43 percent from PACs.
Democratic former Congressman Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., reported about 70 percent of her $1.3 million came from individuals, 28 percent from PACs.
Shea-Porter campaign manager Naomi Andrews said Shea-Porter does not accept corporate PAC money or donations from Washington lobbyists.
“Congressman Frank Guinta has been rewarded for his votes against the individual citizens of New Hampshire,” Naomi Andrews. “From Exxon Mobil, who he thinks should get either subsidies or free leases on public lands, to Citizens United to the Koch brothers, Congressman Frank Guinta has served these groups well.”
Shea-Porter has said no to corporate money because she believes corporations should invest in jobs, not politicians, Andrews said.
Guinta campaign spokesman Derek Dufresne said Shea-Porter is getting help from outside special interests and Super PACs – which don’t directly contribute to candidates but spend for ads to support them – to distort Guinta’s positions.
“However, as seen in the latest polls and from what we are seeing in our strong volunteer door-knocking and phone-calling operations, momentum is on our side as Granite Staters are well informed and can certainly see through her untrue attacks,” Dufresne said.
The small balance of funding reported by the candidates in both races came from their political parties or other sources.
Most of the PAC money flowing to Shea-Porter and Kuster comes from labor unions and women’s groups.
Bass has what amounts to a portfolio of contributions from some of the biggest companies on Wall Street including Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, Time Warner, Verizon, McDonald’s, Corning, Chevron and AT&T.
He also is backed by defense contractors such as Haliburton and health-care interests including hospitals, insurers and occupational therapists.
Bass also has contributions from the Environmental Defense Action Fund and the Realtors lobby. The Poker Players Alliance also has placed a bet on Bass’s re-election campaign.
Guinta’s PAC contributors included the billionaire Koch brothers, the National Rifle Association and many corporate, financial and health-care interests such as bankers, railroads, automobile dealers, the gas industry, insurers, the Miller Coors brewers and dentists.
There are reasons why Bass is getting so much PAC money.
“Bass has been in there a long time and has a lot of institutional relationships,” Southern New Hampshire University political science professor Dean Spiliotes said.
Bass is in his seventh term and is a senior legislator with a lot of connections, Spiliotes said.
“It is not unusual to see that,” he said.
“It’s easier for an incumbent to raise money from PACs because they are proven commodities,” St. Anselm College assistant professor of politics Chris Galdieri agreed.
Where Bass was a winner in a close race against Kuster in 2010, PACs also may believe contributions to him may do them a little more good, Galdieri said.
Spiliotes said the PAC contributions may reflect concern among those groups that Bass is in a close race to retain his seat.
PAC donors can be beneficial for campaigns because they tend to contribute their maximum upfront.
“So you don’t have to go back to them,” Galdieri said. “It’s less time and effort.”