By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
While new Rep. Alan Nunnelee was building his campaign finances in early 2011, Sen. Thad Cochran helped build those of his colleagues, their federal election reports show.
Candidates and elected federal officials are required to report money raised and spent by their campaign committees or political action committees. Their frequency of reporting depends on various federal election rules.
Nunnelee for Congress reports quarterly while Cochran’s Senate Victory Fund reports monthly, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Sen. Roger Wicker’s leadership PAC, known as Responsibility and Freedom Work – built from his initials RFW – reports twice a year and won’t do so until July, according to his campaign accountant John Nail of Tupelo.
Cochran of Oxford, who’s been in the U.S. Senate for 33 years, began 2011 with a PAC total of nearly $675,000.
While across the year’s first three months his PAC took in contributions of $24,000, Cochran’s fund contributed $40,000 to campaigns for Senate colleagues Bob Corker of Tennessee, Dick Lugar of Indiana, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Olivia Snowe of Maine and to the Senate campaign of Rep. Denny Rehberg to challenge Democrat Jon Tester in Montana.
It’s not unusual for sitting members of Congress to use campaign funds to help friendly colleagues and to build political alliances with contributions.
Cochran’s top first-quarter contribution was $5,000 from Electric Power Associations of Mississippi. He also received a total of $5,000 from five members of the Lampton family, who run Ergon energy company in Jackson.
Cochran was first elected to the Senate in 1978 after six years in the U.S. House. His next Senate bid is in 2014.
Nunnelee, of Tupelo, is a first-year House member, elected in November over incumbent Travis Childers of Booneville.
His first-quarter report shows his committee raised $62,500. After expenses, cash on hand is $156,718.
He also received $5,000 from the Lamptons, as well as $10,000 per couple from William and Jan Mounger of Jackson and Kelly and Martha Segars of Iuka.
His top PAC contribution was $5,000 from Caterpillar Inc. Employee PAC in Illinois. Among other donors were Gulf States Toyota Federal PAC at $1,000, U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC at $1,000 and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s Free & Strong American PAC with $2,000.
Nunnelee and Wicker face re-election in 2012.
A Capital Hill merry-go-round started in late 2007, when then- U.S. Sen. Trent Lott retired. Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to the post, and the District 1 House seat he held became vacant. Childers won the special and regular elections in 2008, then was defeated in his 2010 re-election bid by Nunnelee.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.