When U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman joined the House Financial Services Committee this year, certain special interests took notice.
Banks, insurers and other financial services companies dominated the list of political action committees that contributed to Stutzman’s re-election campaign in the first quarter of 2013.
His second-quarter campaign finance report is more of the same – much, much more.
Stutzman, R-3rd, topped $151,000 in PAC donations in April, May and June, according to the report his campaign filed with the Federal Election Commission. The amount is three times what he raised in the first quarter and nearly twice the sum in any quarter since he joined Congress for his first full term in 2011.
The former state legislator from LaGrange County collected roughly $141,000 and $94,000 in PAC donations in the last two quarters of 2010, respectively, when he and well-financed Democrat Tom Hayhurst of Fort Wayne battled for the seat left open by the resignation of GOP Rep. Mark Souder. Since then, Stutzman’s campaign has received between $32,000 and $78,500 in PAC money in each quarter until the most recent one.
The Financial Services Committee is considered a magnet for special-interest support. Last year, the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation analyzed 18 years’ worth of fundraising data and found that among House panels, only the Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce committees attracted more PAC contributions than Financial Services. The Agriculture Committee, of which Stutzman was a member in 2011-12, ranked fourth.
Stutzman still receives financial backing from farm groups, and his FEC report displays various other interests, including PACS representing communications, defense, energy and medical industries, plus beer wholesalers and precision metal-formers. Far more prevalent on his two campaign finance reports for 2013 are contributions from banks, accountants, appraisers, credit unions and real estate investment trusts.
People associated with Stutzman’s campaign attributed the second-quarter PAC spike to a combination of developments – the committee assignment, certainly, but also his growing profile, affiliation with House heavyweights such as Majority Leader Eric Cantor (who attended an April 22 fundraiser for Stutzman in Fort Wayne) and increased media attention on policies and legislation he has advocated, such as separating food stamps from the farm bill.
Although declining to discuss the PAC numbers for this story, aides privately acknowledged being puzzled by an observation in the July 22 issue of Indiana Legislative Insight. The government and politics newsletter stated that Stutzman, with nearly $225,000 in individual and PAC donations in the second quarter, fared well, but didn’t seem to capitalize as much on his newfound high profile as he could have.
Among Indiana’s nine-member delegation in the House, only the campaign of freshman Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, pulled in more in PAC money during the quarter: $160,500. Walorski’s South Bend district has swung back and forth between Republicans and Democrats five times beginning with the 1980 election. In that same period, the Fort Wayne 3rd District has elected just one Democrat, Jill Long, who was in office from 1989 through 1994. A highly competitive congressional district where the incumbent is untested should generate more interest – and money – than a safe GOP seat does.
Stutzman’s PAC numbers exceeded those of other new members of the Financial Services Committee who were in his 2011 freshman class. The second-quarter donations for Republican Reps. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, Randy Hultgren of Illinois and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina ranged from $77,000 to $120,500 – although Fincher and Hultgren raised more PAC money than Stutzman’s $49,500 in the first quarter.
Members of Stutzman’s class who won appointments to the committee before this year fared better. Republican Reps. Steve Stivers of Ohio, Michael Grimm of New York, Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania each received between $224,000 and $262,000 in PAC contributions in the second quarter.
Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, a congressman since 2003, lured $281,000 in PAC funds in the quarter.
Justin Kuhnle of Kendallville seeks the Democratic nomination in Indiana’s 3rd District. Kuhnle, who finished fourth in the 2012 Democratic primary, filed statements of candidacy and organization with the FEC in May, but he did not file a campaign finance report for the second quarter.