Many freshmen got to Congress by campaigning against the status quo at the Capitol, especially the influence of minimally regulated money on policymaking. But all nine of the Senate newcomers, and a quarter of the first-termers in the House, have already created so-called leadership political action committees. The special fundraising organizations allow lawmakers to raise even more money than they take in for their campaigns, then spread it around as donations to curry favor with colleagues and congressional candidates.
The data was assembled by Issue One, which advocates for tougher campaign finance regulations (and is the organization incubating, but journalistically independent from, The Firewall). Freshmen who have already set up leadership PACs range from prominent Democrats who have railed against the campaign finance system, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, to Republicans who have championed the current system, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah.
"The new freshman class of 2018 has said that one of the fundamental issues they ran on, and they heard from their constituents about, was to clean up the corruption in Washington and to diminish the influence of money in politics," former Democratic Rep. Tim Roemer of Indiana, who's now affiliated with issue One, told Roll Call. "Leadership PACs, as currently structured, add to the problem."