Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers continues fundraising lead, Lisa Brown picks up pace

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Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers maintains a fundraising lead in her quest for an eighth term in Congress, raising $776,532 for her re-election in the first three months of the year.

Democrat Lisa Brown collected $649,245 during the same period, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last week.

The gap between the two, at about $127,000, is less than the $230,000 fundraising margin between them for the final three months of 2017.

The McMorris Rodgers campaign said that her total reported doesn’t include money the congresswoman raised for other committees during the same time period, which totals up to more than $1.25 million. That money is not being used in the contest against Brown, and $103,000 of that total can’t be spent on the 5th District contest because it was made to a McMorris Rodgers GOP leadership committee that is barred by federal law from giving back to her own campaign.

The reports show a growing money race between two candidates who also appear headed for a more competitive contest than in recent memory for Eastern Washington’s Congressional seat. Both women reported earning totals well above what they took in for the last three months of 2017.

McMorris Rodgers’ total for this year includes a nearly $100,000 donation from a joint fundraising committee the congresswoman operates with the Republican Party of Washington State and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Last week, McMorris Rodgers’ campaign said they’d raised $803,000 as part of re-election efforts during the first quarter of 2018, calling it a record period. The campaign confirmed that total Monday, saying the amount reported to the FEC showed about $26,000 in paid expenses required by federal election law.

Both candidates earned portions of their totals from political action committees, organizations not subject to the same contribution limits as individuals. Brown said she wouldn’t take any money from committees representing corporate interests. The former chancellor of Washington State University Spokane and majority leader of the Washington State Senate did accept $56,532 in donations from committees that support pro-choice policies and the League of Conservation Voters.

McMorris Rodgers received extensive support from political action committees, totaling $352,525 directly to her congressional committee during the reporting period. Major companies that have given $10,000 to McMorris Rodgers’ re-election campaign include Microsoft, Federal Express, Delta Air Lines, the Goldman Sachs Group and UPS.

Jim Cowles, former president of Inland Empire Paper Co., gave $20,000 to McMorris Rodgers’ joint fundraising campaign, which is also not subject to a $5,400 cap on individual contributions to official committees. Inland Empire Paper Co. is a subsidiary of the Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.

Local politicians are also opening their pocketbooks. Individual contributors to McMorris Rodgers’ campaign during the period included Mayor David Condon, a former staff member to the congresswoman, Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney, state Rep. Bob McCaslin and Spokane Valley City Councilman Arne Woodard, according to FEC filings.

Brown received donations from Spokane City Councilman Breean Beggs and City Councilwoman Kate Burke. Other city officials, including her husband, Spokane City Council Policy Adviser Brian McClatchey, along with former city attorney Nancy Isserlis and Gavin Cooley, the city’s chief financial officer, also gave to Brown’s campaign.

National Democrats have also started pouring money into the 5th District race. Committees formed by Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) gave to the Brown campaign. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has been assisting the campaign since November, has added $5,250 of its own money to the contest.

McMorris Rodgers has received party support of her own. The Tuesday Group Political Action Committee, a fundraising arm formed by moderate GOP members in 2007, has directly kicked in $7,500 to McMorris Rodgers’ re-election efforts. Committees formed by Reps. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), Greg Walden (R-Oregon), Joe Wilson (R-South Carolina) and Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito (R-West Virginia) also made contributions to McMorris Rodgers’ campaign.

McMorris Rodgers maintains a wide advantage in the amount of campaign cash she has on hand. The congresswoman reports $1.5 million in the bank, compared to Brown’s $836,506.