The House Freedom Caucus has made a name for itself by eschewing the traditional Republican political machine and loudly criticizing former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). It turns out its members also aren’t as involved as their “establishment” colleagues in the political money machine.
Official rolls of the Freedom Caucus are secret, but most members have gone public about being a part of the group. The congressional Web site Legistorm also has compiled a list of Freedom Caucus members. Using the Legistorm roster, Morning Consult found that the average Freedom Caucus member raised $1.2 million for the 2014 election cycle.
By contrast, the average member of the moderate Tuesday Group raised $2.3 million over the same period. About half of the Freedom Caucus (53 percent) members raised over $1 million in those midterm elections, while 87 percent of the Tuesday Group membership hit that mark.
The disparity in finances between the two groups doesn’t appear to have any relation to how long members have been in Washington. The average Tuesday Group member is currently serving his or her fourth term in Congress, but the average Freedom Caucus member is right behind that, at three years. Roughly one-fifth of the Freedom Caucus (19 percent) is comprised of freshman representatives. In the Tuesday Group, 17 percent of its members are serving their first term in Congress.
The two caucuses, while only accounting for 89 of the 246 House Republicans, represent key ideological signposts within the GOP conference. They, along with the conservative Republican Study Committee, were the three coalitions whose support Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sought in his campaign for the speakership.
The divergence between the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group on key legislative questions is stark. Not a single Freedom Caucus member voted for a two-year budget deal last week. Meanwhile, of the 79 Republicans who voted for the agreement, 40 were Tuesday Group members.
The most recent data from the Federal Election Commission reveals that even a few months of intense media coverage hasn’t helped the Freedom Caucus’s fundraising. In the third quarter of this year, the average caucus member raised $119,000. That number for the Tuesday Group is $234,000, again nearly twice as much.
A word of caution: the top fundraisers for each group are misleading. Freedom Caucus member Rep. Curt Clawson’s (R-Fla.) $4.7 million haul in 2014 is far less impressive after the $4 million he loaned to his campaign is taken into account. Likewise, Tuesday Group member Rep. Tom MacArthur’s (R-N.J.) midterm numbers are buoyed by a $5 million personal loan.
The full data set is below. 2014 fundraising data is from Opensecrets.org and Q3 2015 date is from the Federal Election Commission. Asterisks indicate a member assumed office partway through a full term.