Senate majority leader Harry Reid picked his three representatives to the twelve congressional member supercommittee yesterday, selecting Max Baucus, John Kerry, and Patty Murray. The first two choices make sense: Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004 and, as his website describes, "holds senior positions on the Finance, Commerce, and Small Business Committees."
But Reid's choice of Murray seems, as the boss wrote yesterday, "crassly political and partisan." Murray is chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and "has little in the way of widely recognized budget or economic expertise (like her fellow appointee, Max Baucus), and she's not an elder statesman (like the other appointee, John Kerry)," the boss wrote. "But her fundraising for the DSCC sure won't be hurt by the impression that she's now an awfully important person for corporations and individuals to cozy up to."
Well, it turns out, liberal groups had a similar concern, voiced well before Reid made his announcement yesterday.
In an open letter to Congress, dated August 4, twenty-five liberal groups demanded that all appointees "1) Cease all political fundraising for themselves, their part, or for other candidates; and 2) Provide full transparency on any meetings with outside groups or individuals regarding the committee’s work, including meetings with lobbyists, corporate CEOs, or donors."
The letter concludes: "The best way to insulate the committee is for appointed members to end all fundraising and to be fully transparent regarding with whom they meet while they serve on the committee."
So, will Murray give up all fundraising for both herself and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee? And, if not, will these liberal groups blast Harry Reid's choice of Patty Murray for the supercommittee?
If Murray does not pledge to stop her fundraising activity for the reelection efforts of Senate Democrats, she should step down as DSCC chairwoman, some say.
“It really sends a bad message to the American people when you’re the chief fundraiser trying to come up with this balanced approach to deficit reduction,” said Adam Smith, communications director of Public Campaign. “She’s going to be focused on this committee and also on fundraising? Will she make decisions based on whether it hurts the fundraising ability of the [DSCC]?
“She should step down or say ‘I’m not going to raise any money,’” Smith said.