Ted Cruz and Heidi Heitkamp haven’t begun serving their freshman years in the U.S. Senate, yet they are already raising money like congressional leaders.
Cruz, a Texas Republican, and Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, established “leadership” political action committees within days of winning election on Nov. 6. Another newly elected Democratic senator, Tim Kaine of Virginia, a former national party chairman, set up his leadership PAC earlier this month. Nine newly elected House members didn’t even wait until Election Day before forming their PACs.
Originally the province of senior House and Senate members, such PACs have become as ubiquitous as re-election committees, allowing lawmakers to collect additional money from their supporters. They provide lawmakers with money to donate to other federal and state candidates, travel to attend political and party events, and conduct other election-related activities without tapping their own campaign accounts.
“This is just a second fundraising machine for incumbents,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, a Washington-based advocacy group that favors stronger campaign- finance regulations.