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Politico-Nancy Pelosi backs insurgent for committee post

April 14th, 2014

By Anna Palmer and John Bresnahan

The money war is starting between two House Democrats vying for the ranking member post on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Anna Eshoo is forming a leadership political action committee, Anna PAC, and will host her first fundraiser Wednesday, according to a copy of an invitation obtained by POLITICO. Her close friend, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is also expected to attend the event, according to a Democratic source. Pelosi’s appearance follows a letter to her Democratic colleagues that she was backing Eshoo, a rare public endorsement from her for a leadership race.

Leadership PACs are a tool lawmakers employ to curry favor with their colleagues by cutting checks to their allies’ campaigns and are often used by lawmakers to help position themselves for plum committee slots.

Eshoo’s invite lists more than 80 Democratic lobbyists, consultants and Silicon Valley execs and asks “hosts” to contribute $5,000, “co-sponsors” $2,500 and “guests” $1,000 to attend.

The hosts committee is a veritable who’s who of former members and K Street power players, including former Democratic Reps. Howard Berman (Calif.), Tom Downey (N.Y.), Vic Fazio (Calif.) and Ron Klink (Pa.). Oracle co-president and CFO Safra Katz, venture capitalist John Doerr, entrepreneur Weili Dai, co-founder of Marvell Technology Group and Democratic lobbyists from firms like Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, Podesta Group and Franklin Square Group are also lending their name and their pocketbooks to Eshoo’s leadership PAC. Pelosi allies like Brian Wolff of EEI, Catlin O’Neill of Facebook and Arshi Siddiqui of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld are also listed as hosts.

The extensive host committee on the invite, which is slated to be sent out Friday morning, is intended to show Eshoo’s fundraising strength as she goes into battle against Pallone, who is also aggressively lobbying members for the energy and commerce slot.

Eshoo declined to comment.

Pallone has also dramatically stepped up his own fundraising holding a money event for his leadership PAC, SHORE PAC, Wednesday night. The New Jersey Democrat has another fundraising event next week at Oglivy Government Affairs, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

And, Pallone has gotten strong support on Capitol Hill as well. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is privately backing him and he has also key foothold with the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who lean toward him based on seniority.

Pallone had about $44,000 in his leadership PAC account at the end of January. In the 2014 cycle, he has cut only one $1,000 check to Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.).
Pallone launched his leadership PAC during the 2006 cycle and has since doled out more than $170,000 to his House Democratic colleagues.

Because Pallone has a long established leadership PAC he can contribute $5,000 to members for their primary and general elections. Anna PAC is a brand new political committee it does not have multi-candidate status yet, meaning Eshoo’s PAC can give only $2,600 per election for the first six months.

CORRECTION: Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) has not announced he plans to retire.

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