Looming shutdown and FEC deadline inspire rush of fundraising emails

WASHINGTON – If opinion polls are any guide, much of the American public views Congress with a mixture of shame, disgust and embarrassment these days, especially as the federal government prepares for a shutdown brought on by lawmakers. That hasn’t stopped Minnesota’s members of Congress from using the threat of a shutdown to raise money for their campaigns — in fact, the looming shutdown appears to have inspired Democratic lawmakers to churn out a steady stream of emails asking for money.

“With Tea Party Republicans pushing to shut down the government tomorrow, I need your help now more than ever to make sure our progressive voices are heard,” went one such email from DFL U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s campaign.

The emails also come on the last day of the third quarter when last-minute fundraising pleas typically flood inboxes so that campaigns can report the strongest possible haul to the Federal Election Commission.

“The extreme wing of the Democrat party is threatening a government shutdown and are refusing to work in a bipartisan way to keep the government open,” went another plea for dollars from the Republican Party of Minnesota.

So far, the state party is the only entity on the Republican side that’s referred to a shutdown in its fundraising emails. None of Minnesota’s three GOP members of Congress appear to have used the potential shutdown for fundraising (U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann announced earlier this year that she would not seek another term and her massive and lucrative email list has since gone dark).

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that’s tasked with recapturing the House from Republicans has been sending out a stream of shutdown-related emails with subject lines such as “JAW-DROPPING!!!” and “ARE THEY SERIOUS?!” Outside liberal groups such as the House Majority PAC, which has targeted 2nd District Republican John Kline, are asking for money to “stand up and expose these Tea Party Republicans for the extremists they really are.

In addition to Ellison, who’s sent several shutdown-related fundraising pleas, both DFL Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar have contacted their campaign supporters about a possible shutdown. Franken sent a note to his email list last week that said, “Republicans in the House took another step in their effort to do a dumb thing for the worst possible reason” (the bold type was in the original). But instead of asking for money, Franken asked supporters to sign an online petition, which campaigns use to determine how deeply supporters care about specific issues and lets lawmakers expand their email lists.