Scalise sets record fundraising pace

By Megan R. Wilson - 04/15/15 06:00 AM EDT

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) raised $1.5 million for the first quarter of 2015, a fundraising record for the No. 3 GOP leader, according to people familiar with his campaign operation.

The number comes from all of his fundraising entities, and it's an unprecedented total for any whip sitting in either the majority or minority in the first quarter of an election cycle. The $1.5 million does not include money he has raised for individual members.

When the books closed on March 31, Scalise still had more than $1.3 million left in his coffers, which includes his joint fundraising committee, campaign account and leadership PAC, dubbed Eye of the Tiger PAC. 

During the first quarter, he transferred roughly $350,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and gave $250,000 directly to members during the first three months of 2015. 

The totals were shared first with The Hill in advance of the April 15 filing deadline.

Team Scalise last week held a meeting at the NRCC headquarters with about a dozen of his top Washington contributors — including many members of K Street — to tout the results.

The haul is notable also because the Louisiana congressman had found himself embroiled in scandal during the beginning of the year for speaking at an event thrown by a white supremacy group in 2002. 

Scalise issued a statement calling the speech a "mistake" he made while he served as a barn-burning state legislator trying to gain support for a tax proposal, and quickly said that he rejected the group's ideologies. GOP leadership also issued statements of support to soften the blow and he appears to have weathered the storm. Subsequently, supporters have shown loyalty with fundraising dollars.

“I think this is clear indication that he’s a serious player,” said Mike Ference, a partner at boutique lobby firm S-3 Group and former senior aide to both ex-Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and then-Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

While few lobbyists knew Scalise well when he first became whip, K Street is now lining up behind him. 

“The list of people who want to help and support Congressman Scalise is clearly growing, and growing exponentially,” said Ference, who attended the NRCC event for supporters last week.

Another person familiar with the Louisiana congressman’s campaign operation told The Hill that “the team is doing all we can to ensure we strengthen and grow our conference majority this cycle.” 

“We look forward to celebrating many more victories in the quarters to come,” the person, who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely.

Scalise had 41 fundraising events in the first quarter and already has 50 scheduled in the second quarter, which runs from April through June, including 19 member events in D.C. alone.

His camp assured supporters that he is “going out of his way to make sure that this is a continued trend. He’s laid out a very ambitious agenda and he wants results like the first quarter to continue,” said Ference. “He’s set all the pieces in place to make that happen.”

House Speaker John Boehner also had a bullish first quarter, raising $5.4 million across his political vehicles. He transferred a total of $2.6 million to the NRCC.