The Hill: DeLay rakes in $1.5 million for ten colleagues

This is how he tries to keep them loyal.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) will receive an overwhelming outpouring of support — in cold, hard cash — from his fellow GOP lawmakers at tonight’s Retain Our Majority Program (ROMP) fundraiser.

DeLay has raked in more than $1.5 million from his fellow lawmakers and will funnel that money to the 10 most vulnerable colleagues, as identified by House leadership.

That figure amounts to $300,000 more than he raised for the same event two years ago and indicates DeLay’s enduring clout as one of the party’s premier fundraisers, even as he has been battered by Democrats and has faced a series of news reports questioning his ethics.

Those 10 lawmakers will all post more than $150,000 for the first quarter of fundraising, which ends March 31.

ROMP was designed by DeLay in 1999 as a way to channel money from members representing solidly Republican districts to their more marginal members. By topping off their vulnerable lawmakers’ accounts by March 31, Republicans hope to ward off potential opponents by letting them know that any challenge would be expensive.

More than 90 GOP lawmakers are participating in tonight’s event, said Jim Ellis, director of DeLay’s Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (ARMPAC). Only 2 percent of the $1.5 million comes from K Street, with the idea to tap business-community PACs later in the cycle, Ellis said. [Ed. note: ELLIS IS INDICTED! Isn't that pertinate information?]

To participate in tonight’s event, lawmakers had to contribute $1,000, the maximum amount that can be transferred from a personal campaign account before the primary, according to Republicans’ understanding of Federal Election Commission regulations.

Leadership PACs are allowed to transfer $5,000, and several lawmakers, including DeLay, maxed out from their PAC accounts.

“Overall, this shows an overwhelming commitment of the conference for maintaining and expanding our majority,” Ellis said.

“We’re at 1.5 million and change. I don’t think we’ll get to 1.6,” he said. “This is bigger than the other four ROMPs I’ve done.”

The 10 beneficiaries are Reps. Bob Beauprez (Colo.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Marilyn Musgrave (Colo.), Anne Northup (Ky.), Jon Porter (Nev.), Dave Reichert (Wash.), Rick Renzi (Ariz.), Rob Simmons (Conn.) and Mike Sodrel (Ind.).

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), who narrowly won his race in November, was not included on the ROMP list. Shays was a vocal critic of a proposed change in the House rules that would have allowed DeLay to stay on as majority leader if indicted.

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Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who heads the DCCC Frontline program, said that he was confident that all 10 members would post impressive March 31 figures, but he didn’t have any specifics.

For the next ROMP, Republicans are likely to add another 10 beneficiaries, which will be a mixture of incumbents and promising challengers. There will also be a final 10 added to the list, and most of those will be challengers, with a few late-breaking vulnerable incumbents.