“It seems that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has some misplaced priorities,” Republican National Committee Spokesman Raffi Williams wrote in an official statement to Examiner by email Tuesday. “Instead of working to prepare her Party for 2014 and 2016, she is raising money for her own PAC.”
The statement by Williams came in response to Examiner’s revelation to RNC headquarters in Washington D.C. Monday that a new post on the website for Democrats Wins Seats (DWS) – the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman and Florida congresswoman’s political action committee (PAC) -- is touting “a project by” Wasserman Schultz called “Democrats Win 2014” as part of a “coalition” being built to get Democrats elected.
“Our mission at DWS PAC,” the post explains below a photo of the smiling Wasserman Schultz, “is to strategically direct resources to help elect Democrats around the country.”
Our focus in 2014 is to win back the United States House of Representatives and maintain our majority in the United States Senate. And our success depends on support from thousands of donors across the country.
“Across the country,” reads a post on the DNC’s website, Democrats.org, “Democrats are building the foundation for their campaigns to take back the House in 2014.”
But they need resources to win. Unlike our opponents, we don't take money from special interests, corporate lobbyists, and political action committees.
However, not only does DWS provide a link to a page where supporters are told that "DWS PAC is playing an important role" in the "project by" Wasserman Schultz and are encouraged to contribute “$5 or more to help Democrats Win in 2014,” it provides a link to another page – bearing yet another photo of Wasserman Schultz – that lists the 26 specific “frontline” Democratic House candidates whom “Debbie” and DWS are “supporting.”
“As the chair of the Democratic National Committee,” the DNC states on its “Our Leaders” page, “Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz works every day to advance President Obama's agenda and re-election campaign and to elect Democratic candidates across the country.”
While it may be her job “to advance” Obama’s “agenda” and to help Democratic candidates get elected, the promotion of Wasserman Schultz’s “project” through her DWS PAC not only conflicts with DNC rules regarding PAC contributions and tests the boundaries of the DNC’s claim that it doesn’t “take money” from PACs, it discredits reports that she cut ties with her PAC when she assumed her position as the DNC chairwoman on May 4, 2011.
“Exerting his new power as leader of his party,” NPR reported June 6, 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama vowed to “not take a dime from Washington lobbyists or special interest PACs” and ordered the DNC to do the same.
“We're going to change how Washington works," Obama vowed. "They will not fund my party. They will not run our White House. And they will not drown out the voice of the American people when I'm president of the United States of America."
“Shortly after Obama won the presidential nomination,” Michael O'Brien reported for The Hill April 28, 2011, “the DNC issued a rule barring donations from PACs” and that Wasserman Schultz – tapped by Obama to become the new DNC chairwoman – “swore off PAC money in order to be consistent” with the DNC’s new fundraising rule.
While O'Brian said it was "not clear what the shift" to eschew PAC money meant "for Wasserman Schultz's own PAC," Politico’s Anna Palmer reported Oct. 11, 2011 that -- since Wasserman Schultz had “stepped down as chairwoman” and “officially terminated her involvement” with DWS when she officially assumed her position as DNC chair -- her DWS PAC had "been largely dormant" and that her spokesman --Jonathan Beeton – insisted that she had not had “any involvement with the PAC since becoming DNC chair.”
So why did the invitation to the DWS PAC’s March 1, 2013 “Spring Training Weekend” fundraiser name Wasserman Schultz as the “host?”
Further contradicting Beeton’s claim that the DNC chairwoman had severed all ties with her DWS PAC, an April 4, 2013 report by Palmer and Byron Tau for Politico Influence revealed that Wasserman Schultz was still in control of choosing its leaders when she named former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) National Finance Director Lindsay Melander Schulte as the new executive director of her DWS PAC.
Ironically, while the DWS PAC asserts that its “mission” is “to strategically direct resources to help elect Democrats around the country," the DCCC – which describes itself as “the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House” – claims to be “the only political committee in the country whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates.”
“The quest for money is never-ending for members of Congress,” Open Secrets explains with its summary of fundraising events to benefit Wasserman Schultz and her DWS PAC between March 5, 2008 and March 1, 2013, “and social events from breakfasts to barbeques, sporting events to concerts, are held to help fill the coffers.”
Often hosted by lobbyists or other well-healed insiders, these events provide opportunities for attendees to support politicians and establish a connection and access to the member.
In her Oct. 11, 2011 report for Politico, Palmer also noted that "reelection committees and leadership PACs are largely funded by corporate and lobbyist contributions."
Ironically -- while Obama forbade the DNC from accepting PAC money in 2008 and The Huffington Post reported July 20, 2011 that Wasserman Schultz sent a letter to RNC headquarters calling on the GOP to "refrain from taking contributions from political action committees or federal lobbyists" during the 2012 election cycle -- Investors Business Daily reported Feb. 7, 2012 that Obama decided to break his own rule and accept PAC money to fund his reelection campaign.
Thus far, Open Secrets reports that $49,127,494 of the $129,722,382 raised by Democratic House candidates for their 2014 campaigns has come directly from PACs.
Of the $81,986,966 raised by Democratic Senate candidates, $16,109,993 has come from PACs.
In a separate report, Open Secrets revealed that Wasserman Schultz's DWS PAC has contributed $18,000 to Democratic House candidates and $5,000 to Democratic Senate candidates for the 2014 election cycle.
Considering the DNC chairwoman's current "project" to solicit campaign contributions through DWS -- as Palmer observed in October of 2011 -- Wasserman Schultz, apparently, is still "not fully un-PAC-ed."