Welch reluctant to fundraise for party

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch is bucking the national Democratic Party over fund-raising for the upcoming election.

His reluctance to help could hurt him, but for now he feels it’s the right thing to do.

Sara Sciammacco has more from Washington.

(Sciammacco) Congressman Welch says he hasn’t raised any money for the national party. He has

been asked by Democratic leaders to come up with nearly half of a million dollars by the 2008 elections.

(Welch) "My job is to represent Vermonters. It is not to fundraise for the National Democratic Party."

(Sciammacco) Welch is among a group of newly elected Democrats asked to help finance the party’s campaign. But Welch says it is not a priority. Political experts say this could cost points with leadership down the road.

Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He says members need to raise money to help get the party’s message out.

(Van Hollen) "In every election you need to be able to have the resources to tell your constituents what Congress is doing, where you stand on particular issues."

(Sciammacco)Van Hollen also wants to win more seats in Congress. The party is hoping to raise over $150 million to retain and increase its majority.

(Van Hollen) "Right now the Republican candidate recruitment strategy is to go out and find millionaires to run against Democrats. So we don’t think that just having a lot of money qualifies you to be a good member of Congress. So these guys have to make sure they have the resources to get their side of the story out."

(Sciammacco) But critics say when fundraising gets excessive, so do expectations from donors.

That’s why Welch says he won’t participate…at least for now.

(Welch) "We’ve got to limit this money chase. I mean I have seen that money talks in Washington. It does buy access and people’s discontent with how big a deal money is in politics is well-founded."

(Sciammacco) Welch says he supports campaign finance reform laws and public financing of political races. But there is little likelihood those measures will be considered before the election.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Sara Sciammacco on Capitol Hill.


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