Despite the nosedive in his favorability ratings, Paul Ryan didn’t spend time over the President’s Day recess recapturing the hearts and minds of his Wisconsin constituents by holding town halls they’ve asked for. Instead, he spent his time off fundraising, to the tune of $657,400 in just nine days.
Some polls have Ryan’s job approval ratings lower than those of President Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Newt Gingrich and John Boehner. If that’s true, it might be surprising that Ryan could rake in so much money in such a short time. After all, he held not one town hall even in his own state. Bu the way joint fundraising committees are set up explains how Ryan was able to amass such a large amount of money.
In 2014, the Supreme Court ruling McCutcheon v. FEC abolished a cap on the amount an individual can donate to federal candidates. Then, Congress voted to increase party contribution limits, which paved the way for joint fundraising accounts to raise more money. Candidates can split their fundraising with their political party accounts. Ryan’s camp dispenses a portion of the money it raises to the National Republican Campaign Committee, which serves as the campaign arm of Republicans in the House.
Joint committees can take in up to $244,200 per person. Several donors made five- and six-figure contributions during the President’s Day recess to Ryan. This includes Paul Foster, the chairman of Western Refining, who gave $100,000. Jerome Falic, who runs Duty Free Americas, along with several family members, each gave between $10,000 and $15,000. It starts to quickly add up.
In fact, Ryan’s joint-fundraising committee raised an impressive $17,272,248 in just the first three months of 2017, while his Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, raked in nearly $5 million, thanks to contributions from a few large corporations. Under the law, Ryan’s Congressional Leadership Fund take contributions of unlimited amounts.
It’s no secret that money, in the form of campaign contributions, can have an impact on elections. Just look at the recent Kansas Special election: The Democratic party provided minimal support, either financially or publicly, to James Thompson. But Republican Ron Estes received $180,000 from Ryan-backed groups.