All of politics is “inside baseball”…until it isn’t “inside” anymore.
As Roll Call reports, fallout from a leaked document related to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) so-called “Patriot Program” is becoming a significant headache for incumbent Congressmen such as Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora):
A leaked internal document from the National Republican Congressional Committee is causing headaches for some of the House GOP’s most vulnerable incumbents.
The document — a memorandum of understanding to be included in the NRCC’s Patriot Program, which supports some of the House’s most endangered Republicans — includes a provision that requires members to submit a “written legislative strategy” to the committee. That legislative strategy must also detail “political justifications” in order to be part of the program, which provides fundraising and organizational support to its members.
…In Colorado, GOP Rep. Mike Coffman’s Democratic opponent pounced to try and say Coffman traded his independence for the promise of campaign cash.
We wrote earlier this week about state Sen. Morgan Carroll’s swift swipe at Coffman over his decision to join the “Patriot Program.” We don’t see this as the issue that ends up costing Coffman his seat in Congress, but it’s not as harmless as Republican operatives would like you to believe. Roll Call reporter Emily Cahn includes her own analysis in the story — “the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee almost certainly has a similar memo to for candidates to sign to be part of its Frontline Program” — but if that sounds like frantic NRCC spin control, there’s good reason for it.
As we discussed on Tuesday, there is always a tendency with this sort of thing to dismiss the “Patriot Program” as something that both Republicans and Democrats tend to deploy…but the “Patriot Program” appears to be an exception because of its “legislative strategy” section. Vic Vela of the Colorado Statesman asked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) if they had a similar clause for their top-tier incumbents, and he received a straightforward response:
But DCCC national press secretary Meredith Kelly said financial support programs for Democratic candidates do not require what is spelled out in the Patriot Program contract.
“The DCCC works with incumbents to make sure they are running smart campaigns as effectively as possible, but would never require submission and approval of a legislative agenda — especially not in exchange for financial and political support,” Kelly said in an emailed statement. [Pols emphasis]
Groups such as ProgressNow Colorado have called out Coffman for signing onto the “Patriot Program,” and asking Coffman to be transparent with the information he sends to the NRCC is not an unreasonable request. We’d guess that Coffman’s campaign will try to skip over the “legislative agenda” question, but it’s a little late for that with Coffman’s signature on the document as a whole. Average voters aren’t paying attention to this now, but you can be certain that this will come up again (and again) as the 2016 election cycle heats up.