ST. LOUIS – EMILY’s List has made its choice, picking Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has received $177,000 from the group and its supporters this election cycle.
The PAC, which supports pro-choice Democrats, is her biggest contributor, campaign finance reports show.
EMILY’s List, whose name is an acronym for Early Money is Like Yeast, has mobilized its 1.5 million members to donate more than $1.6 million to female congressional candidates in the past two years. Only Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren has received more money from the group than McCaskill.
The Washington, D.C. -based political action committee culls its rolls for donations of $10, $20, $50 or more to candidates it supports. EMILY’s List’s key issue is abortion rights, but it has expanded its agenda to include more social and economic issues, such as education funding.
The Washington D.C.- based think tank Center for Responsible Politics says the group “has turned the bundling of campaign contributions into an art form.
“Because most donations from EMILY’s List members are below the $200 reporting threshold, the CRP says the totals actually given are likely greater than the numbers reflected on the Federal Election Commission reports.
As the Aug. 7 Missouri primary approaches, and the general election looms three months later, outside money continues to roll into the state.
Three of the four biggest PACS during this election cycle, including Honeywell International, the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the National Association of Realtors, have spread money among most of the top candidates for open U.S. Senate and House seats in Missouri.
Ideological groups such EMILY’s List are making their collective presence felt.
“It’s not so much that they are trying to affect the outcome of the elections,” Bob Biersack, spokesman for CRP, told Missouri Watchdog. “They want to make sure they have access to the members of Congress that make decisions that affect their business.”
A spokesperson for EMILY’s List did not return a call from Watchdog on Thursday.
McCaskill was elected to the Senate in 2006. In a debate that year with her Republican opponent, Jim Talent, on “Meet the
Press,” McCaskill said she was against partial-birth abortions but a proponent of giving women a choice in the first trimester.
“On the whole issue of abortion, I certainly believe that abortion should remain safe, legal and rare in the early term, but why don’t we concentrate on prevention and do the right thing to drop the number of abortions instead of making health care more unavailable to poor women?” she asked.
The next year, McCaskill voted against a Republican-led bill to bar grants from the Department of Health and Human Services to organizations that perform abortions.
No one from McCaskill’s campaign returned a call Thursday.
The FEC limits PAC donations to $5,000 per candidate per election, which allows the organizations to contribute $10,000 this year for the primary and general elections. The largest PACs tend to spread their money around for the greatest reach.
Groups such as EMILY’s List mobilize their members to target specific candidates in key races.
“It doesn’t feel like a bad thing necessarily to get a lot of people involved to give small amounts,” Biersack said.
McCaskill has raised nearly $10 million overall for the 2012 campaign.
That St. Louis-based business threatened to leave the state in 2005, leading Missouri legislators to create the state’s Quality Jobs Program. Watchdog reported in June the state paid out $51 million in corporate subsidies in 2011, with Express Scripts collecting $17 million since the program’s implementation.
A 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision allows corporations to give as much as they wish to political candidates.