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Guns, Alligators and Big Ticket Parties: How the GOP Raised Funds in 2013

The American public recently ranked itself dead last among influencers in Congress, believing lobbyists, campaign contributions and even the media had a far greater impact on elected officials than their vote. Overall, only 11 percent of the American public still believed that Congress worked to promote the interests of the people over money and special interest groups, a sentiment shared by former campaign fundraiser and star Ben Affleck.

“Over time I became disillusioned, mostly with the pernicious effect of money in politics,” Affleck said. “I realized it was about raising $56,000 through a couple of dinners and those bundlers who bring in $1 million or $2 million…What I don’t believe in is that we now have the need to do it. And for me personally, it started to feel gross.”

Yet, a lack of constituent satisfaction and growing disillusionment, even among former supporters, did not stop both sides of the political fence from raising cash at a furious pitch.  While high price dinners and meet-and-greets were still the norm, in 2013 the Republican party upped the ante with a number of unusual and weird ways to raise political dough.

This year, the GOP tried to host not one, but two, alligator hunts to raise funds.  Senator David Vitter (R-La.) sponsored a Bayou weekend for supporters that featured an alligator hunt, Cajun cooking and swamp tour at a cost of $5,000 a head for guests.

A similar gator hunt, hosted by Florida governor Rick Scott was supposed to offer a similar weekend for $25,000 a head.  The event was ultimately called off after questions were raised about how he was going to secure so many hunting licenses.

Guns were also a big draw this year at GOP fundraisers.  According to Political Party Time, 14 gun-themed fundraisers were hosted this year, including one by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) that encouraged donors to “bring your own gun.”

The oddest and perhaps most lethal fundraiser, however, was held by Maryland state Delegate Don Dwyer.  The state-level politician hosted one of the most affordable fundraisers of the season, with tickets costing only $5 each (with a limit of ten).  Yet, while his inclusive pricing is to be applauded, his choice of prize is not.  Dwyer added two high power weapons to the streets by awarding an AK-47 and AR-15.

Beyond weird and perhaps ill-advised, Kurt Walters of Campaign Money pointed out that these fundraising stops mingling to raise cash take time away from the work that Congress has been elected to do. “As long as elected officials must spend so much of their time fundraising,” he pointed out,  “everyday Americans will be fighting an uphill battle to have their voices heard.”

Photo Credit: Political Party Time

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.