The Federal Election Commission was closed early this week when quarterly fundraising reports came due, but that didn't keep members of Vermont's congressional delegation from reporting how much money they'd raised.
Of the trio, Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) collected by far the most for his campaign coffers in the three months ending September 30. The four-term House member took in more than $213,000 and spent nearly $64,000, leaving him with $1.3 million in the bank.
Welch's two-year term expires in November 2014, while Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-Vt.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) six-year terms end in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
Both senators raised roughly the same amount last quarter. Leahy took in $31,000 and spent $68,000, leaving him with $1.6 million cash on hand. Sanders, meanwhile, raised $33,000 and spent $35,000. His $4 million war chest remains by far the largest.
As usual, Leahy and Welch raised a significant portion of their contributions from corporate and union political action committees, though Welch raised a greater percentage of his total from real human beings than he typically does. Sanders, who does not accept contributions from corporate PACs, raised only a small portion of his cash from unions and trade groups.
Leahy collected $24,750 — or 79 percent of his total — from PACs and another $6483 from individuals. Welch raised $129,711 — or 61 percent — from PACs and $83,523 from individuals. Sanders accepted just $5000 — or 15 percent — from PACs. The remaining $27,570 came from individuals.
Leahy and Sanders also operate their own so-called "leadership PACs," which they use to raise money for other candidates and to sustain their own political operations. But those entities don't have to report fundraising totals until next January.
Asked at a press conference Thursday morning whether it was appropriate to raise nearly 80 percent of his campaign cash from PACs, Leahy said, "Almost all that money is for other senators who are running. It'll go for them."
Leahy may have been referring to his leadership PAC, Green Mountain PAC, which does contribute much of its largess to other Democratic senatorial campaigns. But Leahy spends the vast majority of his personal campaign account on his own political operation.
He also said, "Every time I've run, I've had more Vermonters contribute to me than any of my opponents. On every single race, more Vermonters contributed to my campaign than to the people running against me. And I guarantee you if, three years from now I run again, there'll be more Vermonters — individual Vermonters — contributing to me than whoever my opponent is. That determines whether you're going to win or not."
So which special interests are currying favor with Vermont's congressional delegation?
Welch raised an unusual amount of money last quarter from various medical interests. He took checks from trade associations representing dermatologists ($1000), neurologists ($1000), nurse practitioners ($1000), ophthalmologists ($1000), orthopaedic surgeons ($1000), cardiologists ($1000), radiologists ($1500), reumatologists ($1000), surgeons ($1000), dentists ($1000), anesthesiologists ($3500), generic pharmaceutical companies ($2500), pharmacists ($2500), emergency room doctors ($1000) OB-GYNs ($1000), physical therapists ($1000) and hospitals ($1000).
The telecommunications industry was also quite friendly to Welch last quarter. He serves on the Communications and Technology subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which writes laws governing the industry.
Among Welch's donors in that sector were Comcast ($2500), DIRECTV ($2500), EchoStar/Dish Network ($2500), FairPoint Communications ($1000), the Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Association ($2000), the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association ($1500), the National Association of Broadcasters ($1000), the National Cable & Telecommunications Association ($4000), TDS Telecom ($2000), Time Warner Cable ($2000) and Viacom International ($1000).
Those who donated at least $1000 to Leahy last quarter included:
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees ($1000)
Alston & Bird ($5000)
American Intellectual Property Law Association ($1000)
Dairylea Cooperative ($1250)
Laborers' Political League ($2500)
Lockheed Martin ($1000)
National Association of Broadcasters ($1000)
National Restaurant Association ($2500)
National Education Association ($1000)
News America Holdings/Fox ($1000)
Sanders' paltry PAC haul included contributions from Agri-Mark ($500), National Association of Letter Carriers ($1000), Marine Engineers Beneficial Association ($1000), National Association of Realtors ($1000), National Postal Mail Handlers ($500) and National Education Association ($1000).
Disclosure: Paul Heintz worked as Peter Welch’s communications director from November 2008 to March 2011.