National Republican Congressional Committee
The NRCC was formed in 1866, when the Republican caucuses of the House and Senate formed a "Congressional Committee". It supports the election of Republicans to the House through direct financial contributions to candidates and Republican Party organizations; technical and research assistance to Republican candidates and Party organizations; voter registration, education and turnout programs; and other Party-building activities. It is a registered 527 group.
The NRCC is always chaired by a Republican member of the House, who may serve up to two consecutive terms. The current chair is Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon. Recent former chairmen include Rep. Bill Paxon (1994–98), Rep. Tom Davis (1998–2002), Rep. Tom Reynolds (2002–2006), who was seen as Paxon's protégé and who represented his former district in Erie County, New York, Rep. Tom Cole (2006–2008), and Rep. Pete Sessions (2008-2012). It is governed by an Executive Committee of 11 members, which includes the party's Leader in the House ex officio, and other members elected by the Republican Conference following a House election.
The NRCC is governed by its chairman, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (OR-2), and an executive committee composed of Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Chairman is elected by the House Republican Conference after each Congressional election. Republican Leader John Boehner and the seven other elected leaders of the Republican Conference of the House of Representatives serve as ex officio members of the NRCC's executive committee.
The day-to-day operations of the NRCC are overseen by Executive Director Liesl Hickey, who manages a staff involved in campaign strategy development, planning and management, research, digital, communications, fundraising, administration, and legal compliance.
In addition to Chairman Walden, several other members of the House of Representatives aid the efforts of the Committee by overseeing various areas important to the NRCC. These members include:
- Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) – Deputy Chairman
The NRCC is broken down into several internal divisions which have various areas of responsibility:
Young Guns Program
Founded in the 2007–2008 election cycle by Congressmen Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan, the Young Guns Program began as an organization of House Republicans dedicated to electing open seat and challenger candidates nationwide.
During the 2008 cycle, through a partnership of Republican volunteers, donors and 59 members of the House of Representatives, five House GOP challengers won against incumbent Democrats. Four of those were Young Guns – Tom Rooney (FL-16), Bill Cassidy (LA-06), Lynn Jenkins (KS-02), and Pete Olson (TX-22).
Under the leadership of Chairman Sessions, the NRCC adopted the Young Guns program as the candidate recruitment and training program for House Republicans and it is designed to assist Republican candidates for the House of Representatives.
This program is open to all Republican candidates – regardless of a primary or convention situation in their districts – with the ultimate goal of ensuring whoever the Republican nominee is, they are able to build the strongest campaign possible. Those enrolled work with NRCC staff to meet rigorous benchmarks designed to improve their campaign structure, fundraising, communications and online strategy.
There are three levels of the Young Guns program – "On the Radar", "Contender", and "Young Gun". In 2010, 92 campaigns were granted "Young Gun" status.
As Republicans worked to expand the number of seats they hold in the House of Representatives, the NRCC created its "Patriot Program" to aid incumbents in their re-election efforts. This program serves as a gauge by which potentially targeted incumbents commit themselves to meet rigorous goals in attempts to strengthen their campaigns. These "Patriots" work with the NRCC to develop goals, and plans to meet them, for fundraising, coalitions outreach, grassroots development, eCampaign operations, volunteer recruitment, and a number of additional aspects of their re-election campaigns.
There are currently 265,000 enrolled incumbents in the NRCC's "Obscure Program".
In 2000 and 2002, one-third of the Committee's $210.8 million raised was in soft money donations. As Congress considered prohibiting such donations, the Committee stepped up its efforts, holding record-breaking events featuring President George W. Bush.
Especially after the ban, the NRCC's fundraising sources and techniques have been criticized. For the 2004 election cycle, its top three donors included two Indian tribal clients of Jack Abramoff. Others include gambling interests (also related to Abramoff).
On September 21, 2006 Chairman Tom Reynolds met with lobbyists in Washington, D.C. to warn them to contribute only to Republicans and not to challengers from the Democratic Party because their donations would be tracked and they would lose favors among the Republican members of Congress. Similar activities of the K Street Project occurred when Davis was head of the NRCC; the organization was fined by the Federal Election Commission for transferring funds between PACs for the same candidates in violation of contribution limits.
The NRCC has also offered awards such as "Physician of the Year", "Businessman of the Year", "Columnist of the Year" and "Congressional Order of Merit" to thousands of individuals each year.
In comparison to other groups, a larger number of donors to the NRCC do not declare an occupation or employer, making connections difficult; this may be due to the nature of its donor pool, which consists of more individuals than groups, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Automated phone calls
In 2006, just days before the November 7 midterm Congressional elections, there were numerous reports of a series of automated phone calls ("robocalls") being authorized by the NRCC, with the apparent intention to confuse and annoy the supporters of Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives. The automated call would typically begin by saying, "Hello, I'm calling with information about ___" and naming the Democratic candidate. If the recipient hung up, the call would be repeated, often several times, thus leading voters to believe incorrectly that the Democratic campaign was harassing them. The NRCC used the tactic in at least 53 competitive House races.
In New Hampshire, the state attorney general's office requested that the NRCC end the robocalls, but many individuals in the state continued to report receiving them. New Hampshire News Article The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent the NRCC a cease-and-desist letter. The DCCC letter cited the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation requiring that a prerecorded telephone call must identify the responsible entity at the beginning of the message, and must include the entity's telephone number. Because the NRCC's calls did not name the NRCC at the beginning and did not provide a contact phone number, the DCCC charged the NRCC with "a pattern of willful noncompliance with FCC requirements".
On March 13, 2008 the NRCC stated that its former treasurer, Christopher J. Ward, had apparently transferred "several hundred thousand dollars" in NRCC funds to "his personal and business bank accounts". An estimated $724,000 in losses were embezzled from the NRCC by Ward between 2001 and 2007. Ward has served as treasurer for 83 Republican committees and has done work for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
On June 6, 2008 the Department of Justice, in filing a civil forfeiture proceeding against Ward's house, alleged that Ward "made over $500,000 in unauthorized withdrawals" and that he used the money to make his mortgage payments and for home renovation.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) conducted a probe into disclosure reports submitted by the NRCC during Ward's tenure as treasurer. Guy Harrison, the executive director of NRCC, agreed to pay a $10,000 civil fine and signed a conciliation agreement with the FEC on June 10, 2010.
On December 2, 2010, a federal judge sentenced Ward to 37 months in prison for stealing more than $844,000 from the NRCC and other political fundraising committees for whom he worked as treasurer.
2008 Congressional Elections
In 2008 the NRCC concentrated on trying to help incumbent Republicans win re-election. Even so, the committee had to make "triage"-type decisions about allocating its funds. In October 2008, it canceled several hundred thousand dollars worth of television advertising time slated for the re-election campaigns of Michele Bachmann, Marilyn Musgrave, and Tom Feeney, having concluded that they could not win. The decision drew criticism from the conservative Family Research Council, which stated, "It appears that the NRCC is abandoning social conservative candidates and the issues for which they stand…." Bachmann was the only one of those three who was successfully re-elected, winning a plurality of 46% of the vote in a three-way race.
2010 Congressional Elections
In 2010, Republican candidates won a historic amount of seats in the House of Representatives. Rep. Sessions and the NRCC staff received praise for harnessing voter sentiment and contributing to Republican gains.
The NRCC raised and spent tens of millions of dollars on Independent Expenditure advertising. Republicans won in 52 of the 66 seats where the NRCC made those expenditures.
The NRCC made some of its biggest gains in New York, where two incumbents won reelection and five seats flipped from being held by Democrats to being held by Republicans. In Pennsylvania, the Committee retained seven incumbents and flipped five seats from being held by Democrats to being held by Republicans. The Committee made gains across the midwest, where it won control of both North and South Dakota, and made sizeable gains in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
The Committee targeted numerous veteran Democrats who held important posts in their party's leadership. The NRCC worked to help GOP candidates defeat Committee Chairmen John Spratt (Budget), Ike Skelton (Armed Services), and James Oberstar (Transportation and Infrastructure). In each of these cases, Republicans prevailed over the Democrats.
- Nrcc leadership. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nrcc.org/2012/11/27/incoming-nrcc-chairman-greg-walden-announces-lynn-westmoreland-as-deputy-chairman/
- About the nrcc. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nrcc.org/about/About-NRCC/
- About young guns. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.gopyoungguns.com/about
- Young gun candidates. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.gopyoungguns.com/candidates
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- Bresnahan, John. NRCC settles embezzlement case. Politico. June 11, 2010.
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- Seib, G. (2010, November 3) How the Rout Was Won: Careful Plans, Timely Wave http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704141104575588631233481588.html
- McKenzie, W (2010, November 2) A Big Night For Pete Sessions http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2010/11/a-big-night-for.html
- Miller, S (2010, November 9) Strategists second-guess Dem spending strategy after losses in House http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/campaign-committees/128523-dems-spending-questioned-after-historic-house-losses
- Murray, S (2010, November 2) Losses among Democratic leaders could set up a scramble for power http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/02/AR2010110202539.html
- Hananel, S (2010, Nov. 4) Three top committee chairmen are ousted http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2010/11/04/three_top_committee_chairmen_are_ousted/
- Official website
- Official blog
- NRCC Business Advisory Council site, referenced as part of the National Leadership Award solicitations.
- Cornell University Guide to the National Republican Congressional Committee Records, 1964?–1971
- Donations to NRCC at OpenSecrets.com
- Donations to NRCC in 2004 from Campaignmoney.com
- Donations to NRCC in 2006 from Campaignmoney.com
- "Worried Over Soft Money, G.O.P. Readies Major Gala", New York Times
- "Politician or telemarketer?" MSNBC Nightly News, December 11. 2003
- Jack Abramoff Lobbying and Political Contributions, 1999–2006 at CapitalEye.com