Oregon Rep. Greg Walden of Hood River has been on a fundraising tear since he took over the chairmanship of a powerful House committee last year.
New disclosure reports from the Federal Election Commission show Walden raised just over $3 million last year, almost twice what he raised in each of the two previous years.
Walden’s big haul of campaign cash last year totals more than the other four members of the Oregon House raised for their own re-election campaigns combined.
Open Secrets, a campaign watchdog group website, said that Walden was the 10th highest fundraiser among all House members.
“In terms of him running for re-election, it’s a pretty stunning number,” said Jim Moore, a political scientist at Pacific University who tracks Oregon politics.
But Moore and others noted that Walden had donors eager to give to him after he became chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee at the beginning of 2017.
That panel has jurisdiction over legislation covering wide swaths of the economy. He’s received tens of thousands of dollars this year from interests representing health care, energy and telecommunications, to name a few.
Walden raised nearly $1.7 million from political action committees, representing just over half of his receipts. Open Secrets said Walden last year raised more than $500,000 from the health care industry, including drug companies, physicians, hospitals and insurance companies. He also received nearly $200,000 from the oil and gas industry and $70,000 from broadcasters.
Democrat Laurie Baden of Ashland, who co-chairs the party’s 2nd Congressional district committee, charged that Walden has been co-opted by his big donors.
“He’s been well paid for,” Baden said, “and he’s now carrying out all of their wishes.”
Walden has always insisted that donors don’t get anything from him other than a thank you.
A statement from his campaign focused on the 2,200 donations he received from individual Oregonians, saying that “no one running for Congress in this district can show more support from Oregonians than the Walden campaign.”
The disclosure report showed that about $400,000 came from Oregonians. That’s less than 15 percent of his total.
Moore, the Pacific University political scientist, said that Walden’s strong fundraising gives him an opportunity to help out other Republican candidates around the country.
But the statement from Walden’s campaign said that he needs to prepare for a sudden attack from a well-financed political group.
“When one outside group can spend $500,000 in just one week, it’s clear they and others on the left have vast resources at their disposal,” the statement said.
The campaign added that Walden would “ramp up fundraising efforts this year.”