It would have made perfect sense for House Speaker Paul Ryan, to have spent his President's Day recess in February meeting with his constituents in Wisconsin, but he didn't do that. Considering things have seldom made sense in Washington recently, Ryan — whose favorability ratings have plummeted in recent months — was fundraising instead, collecting a large sum of $657,400 in just nine days, according to the Intercept. Ryan didn't hold a single town hall, defying the demands of people in his own state of Wisconsin.
The way in which joint-fundraising committees are set up makes it possible for Ryan to reel in the abundance of money that he has.
The Intercept explains:
The Supreme Court’s 2014 McCutcheon v. FEC ruling eliminated the cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates established after the Watergate scandal. Then Congress moved to increase party contribution limits, allowing joint fundraising accounts — which allow candidates to share their fundraising with their respective political party accounts — to take in even more money. The Team Ryan committee distributes part of the money it raises to the National Republican Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of House Republicans.
As a result, these joint committees can receive up to $244,200 per person. Several donors made five- and six-figure contributions during the recess to Team Ryan, including Paul Foster, the chairman of Western Refining, who gave $100,000. Jerome Falic, an executive who runs Duty Free Americas, and six members of his family each gave between $10,000 and $15,000.
Ryan's joint-fundraising committee has raked in a hefty $17,272,248 in just the first three months of this year, while his affiliated Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, brought in nearly $5 million with donations coming from a few major corporations. The Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling has allowed Ryan's CFL to take contributions of unlimited amounts. For example, Geo Group, the Florida-based private prison company, donated $100,000, according to the Intercept.
Campaign contributions wind up having quite a substantial impact on elections. The Kansas Special election last Tuesday serves as a prime example of that. While the Democratic party provided little support both financially and publicly to candidate James Thompson, his Republican opponent Ron Estes was the recipient of $180,000 from Ryan-backed groups.