Some newcomers elected to Congress on a tea party platform of change have mastered quickly one tradition they criticized as candidates: raising money from special interests. Ten of the 14 freshmen members of the House Tea Party Caucus collected at least a third of their campaign contributions this year from political action committees and other special-interest groups, USA Today
An exception is Rep. Allen West, a South Florida Republican and national tea party favorite. Only 4 percent of the $434,000 West raised in this year’s first quarter came from such committees. The bulk came from individual donors.
At the opposite end of the distribution scale is another House Tea Party Caucus freshman from Florida, Rep. Dennis Ross. PAC donations made up 92 percent of his first-quarter 2011 intake, compared to less than 50% of the $1.2 million he spent to get elected in November.
“We gave our individual donors the quarter off,” Ross said, adding, “I would love to do a campaign for $50,000 and be successful. But the reality is, with media costs and mailing costs, it’s a very expensive undertaking.”
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