A housewife, a defense contractor, a college student, a White House aid, a fashion designer — a motley collection of personalities. But in Arlington's congressional race all are playing a substantial role. Their money is funding the campaign signs along Columbia Pike, the bumper stickers and the endless stream of political mail.
Whether or not those advertisements will translate into votes come November, understanding where that money originates is part of understanding the candidates.
The campaign to re-elect U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D) has raised $1,286,894 since the beginning of the election cycle, the most among the Eight District's three congressional candidates. According to a June report from the Federal Elections Commission, Moran has spent $941,783 with $386,110 still on hand. Individual contributions account for $949,650, roughly 73 per cent of Moran's funding.
Contributions from political action committees or PACs, interest groups organized to fund political campaigns, make up $323,950 of the money in Moran's campaign kitty.
Mike Brown, Moran's campaign manager, said PAC donations are nothing to hide but rather a way for ordinary people to play a meaningful role in the politics.
"PACs were created as part of reforms in the 1970s to enable individuals to band together and make larger political contributions," Brown said last week. "Companies will establish them so their employees can make donations and have more involvement in the political process. PACs are made up of dozens, sometimes hundreds or thousands of people."
“The PACs congressman Moran has accepted money from are consistent with his emphasis in the district,” Brown said. “They include a lot of labor groups and a lot of defense PACs. Accepting PAC money is nothing to be ashamed of."
The list of Moran's contributors includes corporations like Microsoft, Intel, Time Warner, Citigroup and Capital One Financial. Moran, who sits on the House Defense Appropriations Committee, has also received $86,000 from defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Honeywell International, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and United Defense. Among Moran's top PAC contributors are labor unions, many of which represent federal employees like the American Postal Worker's Union, the American Foriegn Service Association and the National Treasury Employees Union. Labor groups have given about $50,000 to Moran's campaign in total.
According to the FEC report, the Moran campaign has also raised an estimated $37,000, 4.2 percent of its total funding, that has not been fully disclosed.
"The FEC requires disclosure of contributions over a certain amount," Brown said. "It's my understanding these were small dollar contributions but we make every effort to disclose where our funding is coming from and who donates."
Republican challenger Lisa Marie Cheney has raised $136,110 over the course of her campaign and spent $112,845. The majority of her funding, $130,114, has come from individual donors, some with political ties reaching as far as Capitol Hill. White House staff member Kathyrn Mckeown, according to the FEC report, contributed $1,000 to the Cheney campaign in Sept. 2003. Alice Starr, an executive with the West Group Real Estate firm and wife of Ken Starr, the special White House prosecutor, also gave a $250 donation. The head of a government relations firm specializing in national missile defense, Cheney has also received donations from executives for defense companies like Aero Thermo Technologies and the Orbital Sciences Corporation, which builds and tests rocket systems.
Cheney has received contributions from two PACs, totaling $6,000 according to the FEC. Her largest PAC contributor is the 8th District Republican Committee, which gave her $5,000. Cheney also received $1,000 from the ExxonMobil Corporation.
Independent Jim Hurysz is the only candidate who is refusing to accept PAC money. Hurysz has spent $13,000 of his own money funding his campaign and, as of June, had collected $375 in individual donations. According to campaign manager Kate Murray, Hurysz's campaign has been an up hill battle.
"The parties, just by being parties, have an instant pool of money and volunteers," she said. "Jim's had to sell his positions to people over and over again. It's a tough fight. We've had to use energy and shoe leather to make up for what we lack in money."
Hurysz's campaign, she added, is intended to be a kind of statement on campaign finance.
"Jim would like this to be a demonstration of how politics should be done rather than how it is done," she said "We want people to look past the bravado of advertising and really look at his position on the issues."