WASHINGTON -- When questions arose over the propriety of members of the deficit-reduction super committee using their powerful posts to solicit funds, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) seemed to suggest that he was in the clear. That's because he was only planning to raise money for good causes in the near future, he said.
But the South Carolina Democrat's definition of a good cause appears to include himself, according to a review of political invitations compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, which found at least four events for Clyburn's campaign scheduled this week.
The super committee is tasked with creating a proposal to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit. Controversy erupted over possible committee member buck-raking soon after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) named Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to the panel. Republicans and watchdogs noted that Murray leads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and her post among the dozen deficit-cutters could give her a fundraising edge -- as well as call into question whether she could be improperly influenced by outside interests.
Murray has strongly downplayed the concerns, but fellow committee member Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) recently declared he was skipping fundraising and limiting contact with lobbyists just to avoid any such appearance until the panel comes up with its recommendations.
"I don't want people to think that I'm being leveraged by contributions. I just don't want the appearance of money being associated with anything I do on this,” Kerry told the Boston Globe.
Clyburn made it seem he would be taking a similar tack in an Aug. 15 interview on MSNBC, when he said he was raising money for school scholarships, but would not be doing any fundraising for himself in the near future.
"Quite frankly, all the fundraising I've got planned over the next few weeks is for somebody else, not for myself, and I don't plan to do anything for myself until later in the year," Clyburn told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.
By "later in the year," he apparently meant September. Invitations collected by Sunlight’s Party Time blog show that Clyburn is holding six fundraisers this week, including four for his own campaign committee and two for his political action committee, Bridge PAC.
A Clyburn spokesman did not comment specifically on why the Clyburn did not mention his raft of upcoming fundraisers, but insisted that he was acting properly.
"Congressman Clyburn will continue to conduct himself with the integrity he always has," said spokesman Devlin Patrick in an emailed statement. "He takes his work as a member of the Joint Select Committee, a member of the House Democratic Leadership and the representative from South Carolina's Sixth Congressional District very seriously and adheres to the highest ethical standards. He will continue to act in accordance with the Rules of the House and the spirit and letter of federal election law."
Kerry is the only member of the committee to eschew all fundraisers until the panel is set to finish its work near Thanksgiving, although Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has cancelled at least one event.
Sunlight has identified a number of events by five of the super committee's six Republican members, including Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Fred Upton (Mich.) and Jeb Hensarling (Texas), and Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Jon Kyl (Ariz.). The sixth GOP member, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, said he would cut back on events, but did not promise to stop them.