NRCC treads on dangerous ground

The National Republic Congressional Committee has signed agreements with several Republican congressman who are considered vulnerable in the 2016 election. One of them is Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s second district.

The agreement seems to tie certain activities and actions by the candidate with financial support from the NRCC (Poliquin received $1.3 million from the group in 2014 when  he won his seat). . The question is whether the relationship as written violates the independence of the NRCC, which would severely limit its ability to support the campaign of Poliquin or others next year. 

The agreement, signed by Poliquin and his chief of staff, suggests that Poliquin’s campaign will have to use NRCC-sanctioned vendors for services such as polling, mail communications, fundraising and research. Also, item seven of the agreement obtained by The Washington Post says that the member will work with the NRCC to create an “aggressive cycle-long online fundraising plan” with specified goals. “Campaigns that consistently fail to reach monthly fundraising goals … are subject to direct involvement from the NRCC online fundraising team.

Naturally, the Democrats have similar programs, though it is unclear if the role of the campaign committee comes off in as heavy a fashion. For the sake of the GOP incumbents, I hope that someone with real experience with campaign finance issues can defend these agreements. 

Even if they pass legal muster, they will undoubtedly be targeted by opponents as a tied program putting the candidate under the wing of the campaign committee. The national campaign committees want to exercise more control now that independent PACs are spending so  much on these congressional campaigns. If they are not careful here though, they will inevitably put even more pressure on the candidates to rely on those PACs since the committee money could be limited if the candidate and the committee are judged not to be independent.