Let me touch on one aspect of the Foley scandal that a lot of readers have been emailing about--Foley's financial contributions to the NRCC.
The role of NRCC chair Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) in the scandal is important. Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) told Reynolds about the page emails from Foley, and Reynolds says he talked to Hastert about it. As head of the NRCC, which is charged with getting Republicans elected to Congress, Reynolds does seem like a strange choice of people for Alexander to alert. Add in the fact that Reynolds' chief of staff used to be chief of staff for Foley, and the connections deepen.
But there is also a campaign finance connection between Reynolds and Foley. Foley was a big contributor to the NRCC. We got a tip on this yesterday, and after looking into it, concluded that while Foley's campaign committee has given significant sums to the NRCC in the last 2-3 years, the amount involved is what you would expect veteran GOPers like Foley to be contributing. By themselves, Foley's donations don't stand out.
Let me explain.
Foley has given more than $300,000 to the NRCC in the past two years or so. He gave another $15,000 the year before that. You'll see that $100,000 of those contributions came in one donation from Foley this past July.
No question that's a significant amount of money. But in the 2004 election cycle it doesn't place Foley among the top 20 contributors to the NRCC. Most of that list consists of Republican congressmen other than Foley. The July donation just barely qualifies Foley as top 20 contributor to the NRCC in the 2006 cycle.
The other thing to note is that senior members of the House GOP caucus, including committee chairmen, are required by the GOP, at least implicitly, to meet certain fundraising thresholds for the NRCC in order to maintain their committee positions. This is especiallly true of those who occupy safe seats, like Foley did.
Foley was not THE go-to guy for the NRCC. He was one of many go-to guys. That's not to say campaign cash didn't play a role in the kid gloves treatment Foley received from the GOP leadership. It's just that those campaign contributions alone don't add up to that conclusion.