Rep. Long raises campaign cash at Taylor Swift concert
Posted on July 25, 2015 14:38 pm CDT
By: Deirdre Shesgreen
WASHINGTON – What do pop-singer Taylor Swift and comedian Jerry Seinfeld have in common?
Both have starring roles in Rep. Billy Long’s new juiced-up fundraising operation.
The Springfield Republican’s latest campaign finance report shows he’s ramped up his campaign significantly — shelling out big bucks to put on more sophisticated fundraisers in hopes of building a fatter campaign war chest.
“We’re trying new avenues and new venues this year,” said Royce Reding, Long’s district director and campaign manager.
Those new venues include Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where Long’s campaign has spent more than $18,000 this year on various political events around the city.
One example of the congressman’s high-profile approach: He recently invited donors to join him at a Taylor Swift concert, with attendees enjoying the musical performance in a private suite at Nationals Park, Washington’s baseball stadium. The price of admission? $2,500 per ticket, according to a copy of the invite obtained by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that works to increase transparency in government.
Long’s campaign finance report also shows he spent nearly $7,000 on “event tickets” at Caesar’s Palace. Reding said those tickets are for a September fundraiser featuring a show by Jerry Seinfeld, among other things. He did not say how much Long expects to raise at the event.
Overall, Long’s re-election committee burned through $173,000 from April through June — more than any other House member from Missouri and well over the $99,000 Long raised over the same period last year.
But the Springfield Republican still ended the second quarter with a hefty bank account — $673,720. That’s partly because in the first three months of the year, Long raised about $260,000 — more than he has ever raised before in a quarter, even during his first bid for the House, according to Reding.
Reding said Long is trying new fundraising tactics this year, in part so he can dole out more campaign money to other Republican House and Senate candidates.
Long’s latest filing with the Federal Election Commission shows some of the costs for the Taylor Swift event, but it doesn’t show how much he raised. Reding said it was a successful event, but he did not have the final fundraising tally.
Separate from the Seinfeld event, Long made two recent political trips to Las Vegas, his second-quarter report shows. In April, he flew there to attend the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, an event hosted by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Venetian Resort.
That event also drew several GOP presidential hopefuls, who spoke to the gathering during closed-door sessions. Adelson and his relatives gave more than $90 million to political action committees in 2012 to influence the presidential election.
Reding said Long first spoke to the RJC in 2012, and “really just hit it off with a lot of the attendees” because of his pro-Israel positions.
“Because of his strong support for Israel, he has made really close connections with RJC,” Reding said, “so they asked him to come back.”
Long went to Las Vegas again in June to attend a fundraiser hosted by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Long sits on that panel, which is now chaired by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.
Asked why Long was ramping up his fundraising and campaign spending even though he holds a relatively safe House seat, Reding said the congressman has to be “proactive” for a variety of reasons.
“The goal hasn’t changed,” but Long is always striving to “improve our cash on hand,” Reding said. He also said the congressman also needs to pay his dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee, which works to protect and and expand the GOP majority in the House.
All lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, are expected to pay “dues” to their party committees. Long’s dues this election cycle come to $450,000.