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A Republican Texas congressman whose campaign has raised less money than his Democratic challenger says his opponent gathered a disturbing share of her receipts from that chilly faraway state where they park the car in Harvard Yard.
An Aug. 8, 2018, San Antonio Express-News rundown of the race between Rep. Will Hurd of Helotes and Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones quotes Hurd saying of Jones: "When you raise more money from Massachusetts than you do from Texas, that is not a good indication of your broad-based support." Generally, the story also says, Jones, of San Antonio, outraised Hurd almost 2-1 in the second quarter of 2018, gathering $1.2 million to Hurd’s $684,000.
Was Hurd right that Jones has raised more money from Massachusetts--about a 30-hour drive from the San Antonio-and-west 23rd Congressional District of Texas--than from Texas? We wondered.
Hurd aide cites second-quarter figures
To our inquiry, Connor Pfeiffer of Hurd’s campaign said by email that he downloaded campaign finance reports from the Federal Election Commission and then winnowed second-quarter donations to Jones’ campaign from individuals and PACs in the two states--which showed, Pfeiffer said, that Jones got nearly $730,000 from backers in the Bay State and nearly $367,000 from Texas donors.
More than $500,000 via ActBlue?
Off the bat, we noticed that Hurd’s analysis counts donations made by individuals to the Jones campaign via the ActBlue PAC, based in Somerville, Mass., as originating in Massachusetts. Pfeiffer said: "I counted the money Jones received from ActBlue as receipts from the state of Massachusetts because ActBlue is a PAC in Massachusetts."
However, ActBlue doesn’t make candidate donations. Rather, Democratic aspirants and groups use the PAC’s online tools to manage donations from all over the country. The PAC says on its website that it "acts as a conduit federally and in most states, which means we provide the infrastructure for campaigns and organizations to fundraise online, but we don’t fundraise on behalf of anyone."
By Pfeiffer’s accounting, donations made to Jones’s campaign via ActBlue amounted to more than $581,000 of what Hurd considers Massachusetts donations. Not counting that money reduces Jones’s Massachusetts haul to such an extent that the result appears to be, by Hurd's accounting, more than $200,000 less than what Hurd says Jones raised in Texas.
And that result, we recognized, considers only the latest three months of donations reported by Jones to the FEC.
For a longer view, we inquired into how much Jones has reaped in contributions reported throughout her campaign by asking the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance issues.
A center analyst, Douglas Weber, replied that by its sort of itemized donations by individuals reported by Jones to the FEC, her campaign through June 2018 had raised $193,879 from Massachusetts residents and $353,293 from Texas residents. "We generally do not count PAC contributions," Weber said by email, "as many PACs are based in the D.C. area regardless of the organization."
Weber, asked about Hurd’s camp folding in donations conveyed through the ActBlue PAC, commented: "They shouldn't include anything from ActBlue. ActBlue is a conduit--the address may be in Massachusetts but that's not where the contributions came from."
Separately, Judith Ingram, an FEC press officer, responding to our inquiry by checking Jones’s filed reports for donations fielded in each state. Ingram emailed us spreadsheets showing Jones getting $339,599 from more than 800 Texas donors and drawing $117,950 from more than 120 Massachusetts donors--with PACs not included in her tallies.
With help from Ingram, we sifted the Ingram-presented donations to Jones to find that through June 2018, $36,150 of her donations from Massachusett residents flowed through the ActBlue PAC along with $167,593 of her contributions from Texans. Put another way, it looked to us like hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to Jones that Hurd attributed to Massachusetts residents came, via ActBlue, from people not living in Texas or Massachusetts.
Pfeiffer, Hurd's spokesman, indicated by email that Hurd stands by what he said. Pfeiffer wrote: "Based on the congressman's quote, the relevant question here is whether more money is flowing to Jones from Massachusetts than Texas. Jones is receiving a large amount of money from ActBlue, which is based in Massachusetts. What type of PAC ActBlue is does not change where they are based or the proximate source of the money flowing to Jones' campaign," Pfeiffer said.
Hurd said Jones has raised "more money from Massachusetts than" from Texas.
To the contrary, records show Jones raising more in campaign funds from Texans than Massachusetts residents. The congressman’s analysis erroneously rests on counting donations ferried to Jones from donors all over the country through the Massachusetts-based ActBlue PAC as contributions made solely by people living in Massachusetts.
We find Hurd's statement incorrect and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!
PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim. Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.
News story, "‘'This is a knife fight.’ Rep. Hurd’s race with Democrat Ortiz Jones may be costliest in Texas," San Antonio Express-News, Aug. 8, 2018
Emails, Connor Pfeiffer, communications director, Will Hurd campaign, Aug. 9-10, 2018
Emails, Judith Ingram, press officer, Federal Election Commission, Aug. 10 and 14-15, 2018
Spreadsheets showing individual donations to Gina Ortiz Jones from Texas residents and Massachusetts residents (not including PACs), August 2017 through June 2018, Federal Election Commission (received by email from Judith Ingram, Aug. 10, 2018)
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