Heidi Heitkamp already cranking up her fundraising

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.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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