WASHINGTON -- The 17 House Democrats who voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt last week have received more than $1.3 million in financial aid from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since the start of 2009, a review of campaign finance records shows. That total constitutes roughly one out of every nine dollars that the committee either spent or earmarked for candidates during that time period.

The aid isn't atypical for the campaign committee, whose priority is numerical majorities rather than ideological purity.

“The DCCC is a member participation organization that supports Democrats for Congress with the goal of electing a Democratic majority," said Jesse Ferguson, a spokesperson for the DCCC.

But with anger mounting among the Democrats over the GOP's treatment of Holder, the money breakdown threatens to re-ignite a long-simmering debate over what type of lawmakers are best suited to fill the party's ranks. The 17 Democrats who voted to hold Holder in contempt for the invoking of executive privilege in the Operation Fast and Furious investigation did so under pressure from the National Rifle Association. Their votes demonstrate the gun lobby's continued power within the halls of Congress, while raising the question of why the DCCC lacks that same institutional clout.

In addition, seven of those 17 Democrats have said they either are skipping the party's convention this summer or remain unsure of their intentions. One member has declined to endorse President Barack Obama's reelection campaign.

"[DCCC Chairman Steve Israel] is spending gargantuan amounts of money and energy on hopeless Blue Dogs ... [rather] than working on winnable campaigns for independent-minded, progressive Democrats," said Howie Klein, the co-founder of Blue America PAC, an organization devoted to promoting progressive candidates. "Those 17 Democrats didn't just suddenly join [Rep. Darrell] Issa's witch hunt and stray from the Democratic fold. All 17 -- no exceptions -- are among the Democrats who vote with [Speaker John] Boehner and [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor most frequently for the far right's anti-family agenda."

The vast majority of the support the DCCC offered these members (approximately 95 percent) came in the form of earmarked donations -- money that came from other groups and donors but was solicited by the campaign committee.

"What the DCCC is doing for those candidates is what Act Blue does for other Democrats," explained a prominent campaign finance lawyer who advises congressional candidates. "They are sending out an email saying, 'Here are our top 10 target races. Will you give money to those races?'"

Because the DCCC is thereby prioritizing those races, the lawyer continued, it is fair to categorize an earmarked donation as a form of support from the committee. It's "a conscious decision" to help that candidate.

The extent of that support is disproportionate to the help the DCCC is offering House members and candidates at large. During the same period that the committee funneled $1.3 million to those 17 anti-Holder lawmakers, it sent just over $9.1 million to all House Democratic candidates.

That breakdown may seem counterproductive -- why reward the party's least orthodox members? -- but for party strategists, it reflects a political reality. Those 17 members hail from some of the most closely contested districts in the country, meaning that they, more than their colleagues, need the support.

"The only way you're going to have Congress not bringing up Eric Holder contempt resolutions, [and] instead bringing up middle-class jobs bills, is to have the majority in Democratic control," said a Democratic Hill aide.

Not all of the 17 members received the same level of support:

  • Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), who lost his primary bid for reelection, received $17,000-plus in contributions and earmarked donations.
  • Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who is not attending the convention, received $13,000-plus.
  • Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.), who is not seeking reelection in 2012, received just $1,000.
  • Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) received $90,200-plus.
  • Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) received $60,000-plus.
  • Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.), who defeated Altmire in the primary and has said he will not be attending the convention, received more than $300,000, much of it coming during his special election campaign to replace former Rep. John Murtha in 2010.
  • Rep. Joseph Donnelly (D-Ind.), who is running for the Senate in Indiana, received $57,000-plus.
  • Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) received $54,000-plus, much of which came during her special election campaign to replace Rep. Chris Lee, who resigned.
  • Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) received $26,200-plus. He is not attending the convention.
  • Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) received more than $110,000. He voted against health care reform, has continued to advocate its repeal and recently said he was unsure about going to the convention.
  • Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), who is not attending the convention, received $44,000.
  • Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), who has declined to endorse Obama's reelection, received just shy of $60,000.
  • Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), who won a special election in 2009 and will not be attending the Democratic convention, received more than $375,000.
  • Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), who is also not attending the convention, received more than $10,000.
  • Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) received $6,000.
  • Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) received more than $65,000.
  • The only member for whom there were no records of DCCC financial aid since 2009 is Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

Aaron Bycoffe contributed to this report.

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  • From left, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Md., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rep, Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, and many House Democrats walk out of the Capitol during the vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, Thursday, June 28, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., left, and the committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., go to the House Rules Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, to argue procedures as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on whether Attorney General Eric Holder is in contempt of Congress because he has refused to give the Oversight Committee all the documents it wants related to Operation Fast and Furious, the flawed gun-smuggling probe involving Mexican drug cartels. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., left, stretches out her hand to get the attention of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, as the panel considers a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, sits between them. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) (C) talks with raking member U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (L) during a mark up hearing on Capitol Hill June 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. Issa and the committee Republicans called the hearing to vote on holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents the GOP says are key to their investigation into the failed Fast and Furious operation. Before the start of the hearing, the White House asserted the documents are protected by executive privilidge. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., center, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, confers with an aide as the panel considers a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, second from left, speaks with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who authored an amendment in support of Holder. In a showdown with President Barack Obama's administration, House Republicans had pressed for more Justice Department documents on the flawed gun-smuggling probe known as Operation Fast and Furious that resulted in hundreds of guns illicitly purchased in Arizona gun shops winding up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, center, debates Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., as the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee considers a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, considers whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, speaks at left. In a showdown with President Barack Obama's administration, House Republicans are pressing for more Justice Department documents on the flawed gun-smuggling probe known as Operation Fast and Furious that resulted in hundreds of guns illicitly purchased in Arizona gun shops winding up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

  • WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 20: House Oversight and Government Reform raking member U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (R) hears from U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) during a mark up hearing with June 20, 2012 in Washington, DC. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and the committee Republicans called the hearing to vote on holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents the GOP says are key to their investigation into the failed Fast and Furious operation. Before the start of the hearing, the White House asserted the documents are protected by executive privilidge. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  • Attorney General Eric holder speaks to reporters following his meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Holder wants a House panel to drop plans to try to hold him in contempt of Congress, and the panel's chairman wants more Justice Department documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona. Holder and Rep. Issa met in an effort to resolve their dispute over the investigation of Fast and Furious by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., speaks to reporters following his meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Holder wants a House panel to drop plans to try to hold him in contempt of Congress, and the panel's chairman wants more Justice Department documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona. Holder and Issa met in an effort to resolve their dispute over the investigation of Fast and Furious by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Attorney General Eric Holder speaks to reporters following his meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Holder wants a House panel to drop plans to try to hold him in contempt of Congress, and the panel's chairman wants more Justice Department documents regarding Operation Fast and Furious, a flawed gun-smuggling probe in Arizona. Holder and Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, met in an effort to resolve their dispute over the investigation of Fast and Furious by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Issa chairs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • Attorney General Eric Holder walks through Statuary Hall to speak to reporters following his meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

  • FILE -In this Dec. 8, 2011 file photo, House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., left, shakes hands with Attorney General Eric Holder on Capitol Hill in Washington. Holder is proposing to meet with Issa by Monday to settle a dispute over Justice Department documents the congressman is demanding on a flawed gun-smuggling probe. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)