Debt, more debt, and Tea Party House debt

Debt, more debt, and Tea Party representatives debt

Freshmen members of Congress most in debt include the following, all elected in 2010. Names in alphabetical order; dollar amounts as of now (Sept. 2011), heading toward the end of the third quarter; totals rounded downward to nearest thousand.

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)

Filings at the October deadline, after Q3 ends, may show changes in some of the amounts. But for now, here goes, numbers from the Center for Responsive Politics:

  • Justin Amash,  MI 3: cash on hand $26K, debt $279K       N


Rep. Justin Amash

  • Louis J. Barletta, PA 11: cash $229K, debt $227K


  • Daniel J. Benishek, MI 1: cash $138K, debt $103K


  • Diane Lynn Black, TN 6: $325K cash, $274 debt


  • Francisco Canseco, TX 23: $480K cash, $1.1M debt


  • Robert Dold, IL 10: $751K cash, $110K debt


  • Blake Farenthold, TX 27: $247K cash, $135K debt


  • Michael G. Fitzpatrick, PA 8: $438 cash, $19K debt


  • Charles J. Fleischmann, TN 3: $261K cash, $250K debt    N


  • William Flores, TX 17: $402K cash, $713K debt


  • Paul Gosar, AZ 1: $138K cash, $34K debt


  • Frank Guinta, NH 1: $439K cash, $336K debt


  • Richard L. Hanna, NY 24: $173K cash, $530K debt


  • Vicky Hartzler, MO 4: $134K cash, $1K debt [was $22K cash, $163K debt]       N


  • Nan Hayworth, NY 19: $630K cash, $507K debt


  • Randy Hultgren, IL 14: $244K cash, $55K debt                       N


  • Mike Kelly, PA 3: $112K cash, $353K debt


  • Jeffrey M. Landry, LA 3: $190K cash, $20K debt                    N


  • David B. McKinley, TN 1: $736K cash, $415K debt


  • John Mick Mulvaney, SC 5: $173K cash, $143K debt       N


  • Ben Quayle, AZ 3: $370K cash, $7K debt       N


  • James B. Renacci, OH 16: $577K cash, $370K debt


  • Reid Ribble, WI 8: $347K cash, $146K debt


  • Scott Rigell, VA 2: $392K cash, $324K debt


  • David Rivera, FL 25: $62K cash, $151K debt


  • Jon Runyan, NJ 3:  $204K cash, $283K debt


  • David Schweikert, AZ 5: $354K cash, $501K debt              N


  • Austin Scott, GA 8: $144K cash, $60K debt                N


  • Marlin Stutzman, IN 3: $52K cash [was $523 cash, $8K debt]             N


  • Scott Tipton, CO 3: $249K cash, $111K debt          N


  • Joe Walsh, IL 14: $472K cash, $102K debt [was $22K cash, $362K debt]           N



A few observations about these 31 debt-ridden, or anyway debt-laden, members of the House of Representatives.

One, all are Republicans. The self-proclaimed rock-ribbed guardians of fiscal responsibility—‘deficit hawks’ is the euphemism–in Congress most deeply mired in campaign debt themselves, after the 2010 wave that swept a bunch of them into office, are all GOPers.

Second, while other GOP freshmen are also in debt, these 31 are the members whose debt is or was most egregious. Some of the indebtedness is outrageous in sheer amount, even by the standards of today’s political races, like the $362,000+ formerly owed by Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois or the $283,000+ by Rep. Jon Runyan of New Jersey or the $501,000+ by Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona or the $1,000,000+ by Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee. Some of it is outrageous in light of their campaign cash raised and on hand, like the $102,000+ still owed by Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois and the $146,000+ owed by Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin. Some of it is outrageous in light of their money-raising capabilities for what might be called extraneous (family) reasons, like the $7,000+ owed by Rep. Ben Quayle of Arizona, son of former vice president Dan Quayle, and the $135,000+ owed by Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas, and the $20,000+ owed by Rep. Jeffrey Landry of Louisiana.

Rep. Jeffrey Landry


Third, in this cohort Latinos are disproportionately represented—Rep. Rivera of Florida with $151,000+ in debt, Rep. Flores of Texas with $713,000+ in debt, Rep. Canseco of Texas with $1,100,000+ in debt. So much for that much-vaunted big tent we used to hear so much about. Looks as though some traditional Repub donors/contributors are treating them more like the nose of the camel.

Speaking of tents.


Fourth, all of the above were placed in office with strong Tea Party support or votes. This includes Amash of Michigan, Farenthold of Texas, Rep. Charles Fleischmann of Tennessee ($250,000+ in debt), and Rep. James Renacci of Ohio ($370,000+ in debt).


Fifth and last, twelve of the above 31 members voted against lifting the ‘debt ceiling’ even in final passage. With liabilities, campaign-wise, typically exceeding assets by WAY more than 10 to one, they voted against legislation that would stabilize the economy and ease the pain of fellow Americans.

A quick round-up of some representative comments, from indebted members who opposed lifting the ‘debt ceiling’ (already set by the congressional budget):

Justin Amash (debt: $280,000+) explained his vote this way:

“The bill does not seriously address the drivers of the federal government’s fiscal crisis. It does not improve entitlement programs. It does not include a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.”


Charles Fleischmann (debt: $250,000+) has this to say:

“Contact Congress now and urge them to end runaway spending.”


Vicky Hartzler (debt: formerly $163,000+) has this:

“Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) has taken a stand for fiscal discipline and a strong national defense, voting against the latest bill to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.”

Hartzler also calls for an end to the ‘skyrocketing costs’ of doing business, which include health and safety regulations and offering insurance for employees. That last $1,000 may be coming in any moment now.


Randy Hultgren (debt: $55,000+):

“”Tonight, I voted against a flawed bill that doesn’t go far enough,” Hultgren wrote. “I’ve been clear from the very beginning I would not support any effort to increase our nation’s debt ceiling if the proposal does not hold true to the values of Cut, Cap, and Balance, as well as enact serious structural changes.”

Less than six figures in debt and with his own political connections among indictable Illinoisians, Hultgren is a piker as a debtor. He is also overshadowed in his state delegation by the unusually overripe Joe Walsh. Walsh’s financial or other flaws have been noticed elsewhere, most notably in this piece from the Daily Caller and this in Salon. One can infer that Walsh was not drawing improperly from campaign contributions to pay his child support.


The Grand (Old Party) Total


Just one final observation. As stated, the names and amounts above are far from all of the newly elected GOP deficit hawks in Congress whose debts exceed their cash on hand, by a mile. There are more.

But the combined debt of just the twelve members above who voted against final passage of the debt legislation, again, totals $1,529,000+, even rounding down. Debt for the others on the list totals $6,130,000+.

The Federal Election Commission filing deadline for the third quarter of 2011 is October 15. It will be intriguing to see how much of that remaining $7.5M congressional campaign debt, run up by deficit hawks, is paid down.


Roll Call reports today that several of these members are also on the GOP endangered list, as RC puts it “viewed as potentially vulnerable next year.” Ten reps will receive a split of $1.5M raised by the NRCC last week: “The Members receiving a cut of the cash are Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Judy Biggert (Ill.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Bobby Schilling (Ill.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Bob Gibbs (Ohio), Bill Johnson (Ohio), Jim Renacci (Ohio) and Scott Rigell (Va.).”


Note: I have learned the risk of publishing this kind of information. Tax-for-Growth types may fall all over themselves to retire some of that debt for members of their own, now that I have identified them. Shows me. But I never object to doing well by doing good, those little unremembered acts of kindness and of love . . .


Frankly, it is also a bit irritating that the NRCC lacks the decency to funnel more bucks to specially-recruited Latino GOP reps.

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2 Responses to Debt, more debt, and Tea Party House debt

  1. Drew says:


    Instead of being blindsided by partisan politics – you should dig deeper and look at the debt closely. For example, James Renacci (R-OH 16) owes himself $370,000. That means he put personal money into his campaign – I wouldn’t necessarily call this debt, would you? Most of these members have their own money in their campaigns. They are putting their money where there mouth is. C’mon now – quit drinking the kool aid. Plus, any educated liberal elitist like should know that most business and persons have debt. Debt is not always a bad thing. Many companies are debt financed. Debt becomes a bad thing when it is 100% of your GDP – like the U.S. Government.

    Stick with you day job – instead of partisan blogging that you have no idea what your talking about.


  2. Jimbo Jones says:

    This analysis is fundamentally flawed for at least the following reason:

    It does not differentiate between debt owed to third parties and debt owed by the candidate’s committee to the candidate him or herself. For example, I did a search on the first person you listed, Rep. Amash, and quickly found that over $200,000 of the debt he owes is to himself. In other words, he loaned his own campaign +$200,000. That’s hardly a “gotcha” revelation. Ostensibly most of these candidates have mortgage debt and credit card debt, do you also think that means that they have no standing to care about our nation’s debt?

    Also, even if a candidate owes debt to a third party, why does it follow at all that they should be ok with increasing our nation’s debt by trillions of dollars? The two things are entirely unrelated. Our national debt is paid for by taxpayers against our will. Campaign contributions are given voluntarily by people who want to see that candidate succeed and pay his or her expenses (including debts).

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