In trying to find a simpler, more humane way to raise campaign funds in Washington, U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, may have stirred up a hornet’s nest.
It all started, the congressman said last night, with a fundraiser at a Keith Urban concert in Washington. Many of his supporters bought tickets and attended – but Westmoreland couldn’t. House votes kept him in the Capitol.
Westmoreland thought it rude of himself not to attend the party that he hosted.
The congressman usually invites lobbyists, representatives of political action committees and other walleted individuals to several such events each quarter. As does virtually every other member of Congress. “Half of them get up, don’t even finish eating, because they’re going to another one,” he said.
So Westmoreland penned an e-mail to donors this week that was picked up by the National Journal. Wrote the Georgia congressman:
I recognize that you have a life outside of politics – family, friends, and home. I am sure that you receive dozens of invitations to breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. There is simply no way that you can fit them all in, and still have time to take your kids to soccer practice or cook dinner for your family. That is why I have decided to try to change the way I approach fundraising in DC.
During this quarter I will have one event for the quarter. I am going to focus all of my energy on this event rather than hosting ten events and calling you multiple times over the quarter.
I recognize that you, your PAC, or your clients may want a more personal conversation. To that end, your participation in my one quarterly event will also include a meeting of your choice outside of this event. That meeting will be at your discretion and convenience. Coffee, breakfast, dinner- let me know what works for you and we will accommodate.
“This is the way I was looking after people’s time,” Westmoreland said. “It was a very simple idea to cut down on people’s confusion.”
Acknowledged the National Journal:
If widely adopted, Westmoreland’s approach could revolutionize the campaign fundraising landscape, which can see upwards of 200 fundraising events per week.
But that last paragraph has raised eyebrows – particularly from the Public Action Campaign Fund, a non-partisan, non-profit group that keeps an eye on the cash that fuels Washington.
Promising a meeting in exchange for cash “is a brazen case of selling access,” the group declared Wednesday. “If it isn’t illegal, it should be.”
Westmoreland denies that he was putting a price on his face time, though he agreed that the wording of the letter may have been inartful.
“You know me better than that. That’s not me selling anything. This is the way I was looking after people’s time,” he said. “It was a very simple idea to cut down on people’s confusion. I was just putting that [last paragraph] in to make it clear that we weren’t trying to avoid anybody. I was trying not to offend.”
Westmoreland said he’s not even sure that the idea of consolidating fundraisers will catch on.
Jaye Watson over at 11Alive has picked up on a flaw in a state law that dictates what nursing schools will be recognized in Georgia. Apparently, in its haste to bar graduates of some questionable online nursing programs, lawmakers accidentally prohibited licenses from being issued to graduates of military nursing schools. State Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Cobb County, said fixing the error will be a top priority in January.
Back in the days when he was governor, Zell Miller conducted an intense and personal campaign against the use of the “Snuffy Smith” comic strip by newspapers – which he thought demeaning to hill folk. Miller may be retired, but the campaign continues. From the Associated Press:
A Southern humorist and political candidate who angered Appalachian residents with jokes they considered offensive won’t be allowed to sell CDs in a state park in Kentucky’s hill country.
The Kentucky Department of Parks ordered recordings of comic-turned-politician Robert Farmer off the shelves at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park late Tuesday.
Farmer, who is running for the elected office of agriculture commissioner, drew no laughs from mountaineers with a stand-up routine that stereotypes them as toothless, inbred and living in a place “where cars are up on blocks and houses are on wheels.”
And speaking of retirement: Back in 2000, watching the demographic changes in Cobb County, state Rep. Randy Sauder of Smyrna became one of the last Republicans in the state Capitol to switch to the Democratic side of the aisle. He lost his seat.
Sauder is retired now, and has become an artist of a sort. If you are a male of a certain age, born before video games, you’ll remember Erector sets. Sauder has become part of a revival:
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider