Headlines we like: Is DeLay's fundraising slipping?
Rep. Tom DeLay has just $150,000 more in the bank than challenger Democrat Nick Lampson, the most recent election filings show.
DeLay's campaign committee reported having $1.44 million on hand and Lampson's campaign $1.29 million, according to year-end reports that were filed late Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission. The reports include all funds received up to Dec. 30, 2005, and also include a swing-for-the-fences fundraising dinner in Houston for DeLay with Vice President Dick Cheney on Dec. 5. DeLay's office called the fundraiser "the most successful of the congressman's career."
"In one night alone, the congressman took in more than $500,000," said campaign spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty. "It was a very strong fourth quarter."
Lampson campaign spokesman Mike Malaise was surprised that the race for dollars was so close, based on what he said he'd heard from Delay's camp.
"DeLay's fundraising numbers are dropping off," Malaise said.
More bad news for DeLay: His legal defense fund is spending faster than it's raising.
DeLay, fighting an indictment in Texas on charges of illegal fundraising while facing scrutiny by federal prosecutors in Washington for his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, raised $181,851 between Oct. 1 and the end of the year. That amount brought the total raised for his legal defense fund in 2005 to $590,520 — significantly more than the $439,550 recorded in 2004.
But during 2005, DeLay's legal expenses topped $1 million, said Brent Perry, a Houston attorney who administers the fund.
"We paid out well over $500,000 in legal fees (in 2005)," he said. The payments would leave DeLay owing lawyers at least $500,000, a figure Perry said was probably low.
DeLay, of Sugar Land, raised $318,000 in the third quarter of 2005, during which he was indicted in Travis County. Perry said the falloff in the final three months should not be interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm among donors.
"I have not experienced any reluctance to give," Perry said. "We've already taken in $100,000 in January, without any fundraising events."
As reported in required disclosures to the U.S. House, contributions to the fund in the fourth quarter trailed Republican DeLay's legal expenses for the same period, which came to $239,257.