DENVER – A liberal ally may have cheered Democrat congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff’s commitment to reject contributions from political action committees (PACs) and special interest groups, but the former state lawmaker appears to be sidestepping that pledge by accepting money from high-profile lobbyists and fundraising “bundlers.”
T.Q. Houlton, a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC), blasted Romanoff, who faced similar criticism during his unsuccessful 2010 bid for the U.S. Senate.
“After a devastating electoral loss in the 2010 Senate primary, Romanoff is making it clear that he is just another washed up professional politician looking to make full-time campaigning his latest career,” said Houlton.
Critics point to Romanoff’s second quarter fundraising report, which reveals that a plurality of Romanoff’s contributions came from the legal industry, including white shoe firms like Patton Boggs, Brownstein Hyatt, Holland & Hart, Wilmer Hale, and Sherman and Howard.
It isn’t the first time the NRCC has taken aim at Romanoff for sidestepping his PAC money pledge.
In April, Houlton criticized Romanoff for taking money from “registered lobbyists, trial lawyers, corporate bigwigs and even the head of a special interest PAC,” during the first quarter.
That criticism apparently hasn’t dissuaded Romanoff, an attorney himself, from seeking contributions from within the legal-lobbying sector, which wields significant influence in both Colorado and Washington, DC.
According to the 485-page report filed on July 15, Romanoff received $54,885.79 from attorneys and lobbyists.
J. Gordon Arbuckle, a Patton Boggs attorney who is listed on Patton Boggs’ website as an “environmental panel counsel for a Fortune 50 environmental and casualty insurer” and “active in the U.S. congressional deliberations which led to the enactment of laws such as the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline Act, the Deepwater Port Act, the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Act” as well as other federal lobbying efforts, donated $1,500.
Brownstein attorney Gregory W. Berger, who is listed as representing a client on “international tax reform” as well as “a coalition of diverse companies” in the 2009 stimulus bill also donated.
Wilmer Hale’s Tom Strickland, a longtime lawyer-lobbyist and aide to former Obama administration Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also appears on Romanoff’s disclosure report. The Former Interior Chief of Staff is listed as having given $1,000 to the campaign.
Romanoff’s campaign issued a statement to accompany its second quarter disclosure numbers, claiming 91% of its donors are from Colorado, and 80% of the donations are $200 or less.
His campaign release thanked a “grassroots campaign [that] raised more than $1 million in just five months. More than 4,700 donors — 91 percent of them in Colorado — made that possible. Thank you for your generosity!”
But Romanoff’s press release makes no mention of the more than $300,000 of his 2013 total that came from ACT Blue, a liberal Massachusetts PAC that aggregates online donations.
If individuals donate $200 or less, Romanoff’s campaign is not required to disclose names, addresses, employers, or occupations of those donors.
ACT Blue’s stated purpose is to allow Democrats to fundraise outside of their home states, allowing individuals to “bundle” donations by sending out emails to friends and colleagues.
The FEC stated that ACT Blue is not required to disclose individual contributions of less than $200, but ACT Blue does retain most, if not all, of that information in its database. ACT Blue lists a very small portion of Romanoff donors on its website. As a result, political observers are left to wonder about the source of $314,010.39 — roughly 25 percent of Romanoff’s yearly fundraising total.
“The bags of campaign cash from Washington special interests padding Andrew Romanoff’s bank account are even more proof that he will do anything to further his political career at the expense of Colorado’s interests,” Houlton concluded.
Neither the Romanoff campaign, nor the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee responded to requests for comment.
Romanoff is seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman in the 6th Congressional District.