This American Life delved into D.C. deal-making in its most recent episode, Take the Money and Run for Office. In it, former Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick details the never-ending task of fund raising. “I needed to raise $10,000 to 15,000 dollars a day,” Minnick says in the piece. “And you only do it by elbow grease.”
He needed to raise so much because, as a conservative Democrat running in Idaho, his reelection bid was expected to carry a high price tag — $2.5 million or more. Minnick was
defeated by Republican Rep. Raul Labrador in 2010.
This American Life teamed up with the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog group, to track things like the most popular kinds of fundraising events. The Sunlight Foundation also gathers invitations to those fundraisers and posts them online at a website it calls Party Time.
What kinds of events have been held to benefit the members of Idaho’s delegation? The Sunlight Foundation’s list show 84 since early 2008 benefiting Rep. Mike Simpson. That’s far more than it shows for any other of Idaho’s four U.S. lawmakers. Sen. Mike Crapo’s list of 49 events includes fishing on the Chesapeake, Sun Valley ski outings, and steakhouse dinners. Required contribution levels often run in the $1,500 to $2,500 range.