The final fundraising numbers are out for the 2016 election cycle and Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) has a significant advantage over his challenger, U.S. Navy Capt. John Plumb (D-Lakewood).
According to the Federal Election Commission, Reed has so far raised $2.9 million during the current election cycle, with $1.14 million coming by way of individual donations and $1.74 coming by way of PAC funding.
On the opposing side, Plumb’s campaign has raised just over $1.3 million, which is just 45 percent of what Reed has raised.
But when taking a closer look, Plumb is actually on pace with Reed when it comes to individual donations, having raised $1.07 million. That’s only $74,000 less compared to what Reed received in that category. However, there is a huge disparity when it comes to PAC donations. Plumb has received only $248,000 in PAC money – only 14 percent of Reed’s total PAC funding.
What is significant about PAC funding? PACs (or Political Action Committees) are organizations that raise money privately on behalf of a cause or special interest, and then use that money to influence elections or legislation, especially at the federal level.
In the 2016 election alone, a total of $1,095,900,000 has been spent on all candidates running for federal office (this includes the Presidential Race). Of that money, $788,000,000 comes from Super PACs, making it by far the largest source of campaign funding in the United States.
Here’s a chart representing the total campaign funding for Reed and Plumb, the two candidates in New York’s 23rd Congressional district (which includes Jamestown and Chautauqua County):
PLUMB ACCUSES REED SIDING WITH WALL STREET INTERESTS
That disparity in PAC funding has not gone unnoticed by the Plumb campaign, which put out a news release earlier this week claiming that the financial filings show that Wall Street, the financial industry and special interests are helping Reed “stay in Washington to continue rigging the system to their benefit and at our expense.”
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Reed has raised nearly $300,000 from Wall Street and the Financial Industry this campaign cycle alone, while totaling over $1 million in contributions from this sector over the course of his time in Washington. Plumb said that should come as no surprise.
“Congressman Reed keeps making the problems in our rural communities worse by voting in Washington to rig the system in favor of big banks and special interests – and now they’re rushing to his defense and paying huge sums of cash to try to keep him in Washington,” Plumb said in the release. “Tom Reed embodies the worst of our broken political system…. [he] spends his time in Washington putting special interests ahead of our district.”
During a conference call with media on Monday, Reed responded to Plumb’s criticism, saying he feels voters will make a decision based on his record, not how much money he’s raised or where it came from.
“We think races are won or lost based on the record that is put out there. It’s ultimately up the people. Regardless of where the money comes from, it is about the record and the effort you put into office, that’s what determines the outcome,” Reed said. “As we go forward, we’re going to make sure people know where we stand and where my opponent stands… and when the voters go to vote, I’ll respect the collective wisdom of those individuals.”
Reed’s campaign spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg also released a statement, calling Plumb’s criticism “absurd” and saying he is the one who is actually benefiting from a rigged system in Washington.
“‘[Plumb’s] campaign is benefiting from a quarter million dollars from Nancy Pelosi’s PAC. Plumb is bought by the very DC insider who convinced him to move here and run for Congress,” Hasenberg said.
Hasenberg also points to the amount of individual donations the Reed campaign has received as proof that he is working on behalf of residents in the district, and that they support his efforts.
“This election is an opportunity to stand together against the status quo of Washington who unfairly puts Washington first. The contrast between Tom, a New Yorker who has chosen to spend his life here, and [Plumb], who only moved here because of political opportunity, is clear,” said Hasenberg. “New Yorkers want someone who cares about them and understands their needs. That person is Tom Reed because this is his true home unlike [Plumb]. That’s why more than 1,500 New Yorkers have contributed to the Reed campaign this cycle.”
PLUMB UNVEILS PLAN TO END BIG-MONEY INFLUENCE IN ELECTIONS
Plumb – who’s been endorsed by the End Citizens United organization – stated that he would do things differently if he was elected, and on Tuesday in Ithaca he announced his policy priorities for fixing what he called a broken political system. Plumb said his platform consisted of restoring values like integrity and service to Congress, along with removing excessive money from politics.
Plumb’s policy priorities include:
- Supporting a Constitutional Amendment that undoes the disastrous Citizens United v. F.E.C ruling and gave Congress and the States the power to regulate campaign finance.
- Require members of Congress to publicly disclose bulk mailings paid for at taxpayer expense, and publicly report the amount of hours they spend fundraising while Congress is in session.
- Extend the lobbying ban on former members of Congress after they leave office from one year to five years, and close loopholes that have facilitated underground and unreported lobbying.
- Stop allowing members of Congress to write their own ethics standards — reform is not in their interest. Establish an Independent Congressional Oversight Board that develops and establishes rigorous, enforceable ethics standards for members of Congress.
On Monday, Reed stated that he also supports campaign finance reform, but it would involve more transparency, rather than placing further limitations on funding sources.
“I support full transparency when it comes to campaign finance reform and will continue to support that because I think that’s the best medicine for the shenanigans when it comes to money in politics – it’s that sunshine of transparency. We’ll continue to support that reform as we go forward,” Reed said.
Plumb is challenging Reed for his seat in the 2016 general election. Over the past two decades he’s served as a submarine officer in the Navy and later as an official at the Department of Defense. Most recently he’s served as director of defense policy and strategy at the National Security Council and is also a Navy Reserve Captain. He graduated from Randolph High School in 1988.
Reed is an attorney and former mayor of Corning who was elected to Congress in 2010 and has represented Chautauqua County since January 2013, when redistricting created the new boundaries for the state’s 23rd congressional district.