POLITICS
11/20/2018 11:00 am ET

Democratic Donors Suggest They May Withhold Donations If Nancy Pelosi Isn't Elected Speaker

"[W]e do believe the competence and effectiveness of the Leader is a critical component in motivating us to reach in our pockets."

Sixteen Democratic donors released a letter to the House Democratic caucus Tuesday saying they want Nancy Pelosi to be the next speaker. 

“Because of her diligence, her powers of persuasion, her enormous effectiveness and her adherence to our values, we have provided a portion of the financial resources required to be competitive cycle after cycle,” the donors wrote in their letter, which was shared with HuffPost.

“When it came to funding this recent effort to retake the Majority, would we have contributed anywhere near as much as we did if Nancy was not the Leader? We think not,” they wrote. 

When it came to funding this recent effort to retake the Majority, would we have contributed anywhere near as much as we did if Nancy was not the Leader? We think not. A letter from Democratic donors in support of Nancy Pelosi as speaker

Some of the donors are more substantial players than others. Michael Kempner and Marsha Laufer, for example, are major donors to the Democratic Party, while some of the other signatories have not given nearly as much.

In the letter, they issue a warning that they may not be willing to be quite so generous in their donations if the next speaker isn’t Pelosi. 

″[W]e do believe the competence and effectiveness of the Leader is a critical component in motivating us to reach in our pockets. On that basis it is hard to imagine a replacement for Nancy engendering the same level of confidence at this critical time,” they wrote.

It's not clear if Nancy Pelosi will be speaker when Democrats take control of the House in January.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
It's not clear if Nancy Pelosi will be speaker when Democrats take control of the House in January.

Pelosi, the Democratic California congresswoman who is currently minority leader, is in a heated battle to become House speaker when Democrats take control of the House in the new year. 

There’s no doubt that she’ll win the backing of her caucus when it votes later this month to choose whom it wants to be its leader. The question is whether she’ll be able to get the 218 votes needed in January, when the full Congress votes. The new Democratic majority is expected to have 234 members, and on Monday, 16 Democrats released a letter saying they plan to oppose her ― although two of them have not yet officially been declared the winners of their races.

Only two women were among the group of anti-Pelosi members.

In recent days, major players in the Democratic movement have come out and endorsed Pelosi for speaker, including labor unions and other grassroots groups. 

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), has been one of the leaders of the movement to make sure Pelosi doesn’t become speaker. At a town hall in his district Monday night, some of his constituents confronted him for his opposition to her. 

“I’m totally pissed off,” said Linda Christian, 80, a retired lawyer who sharply questioned Moulton at the event. “I voted for him. I like this man. I think he’s shown, if not animus, stupidity.”

“He feels women are disposable, and elderly people are disposable,” she continued.

Read the full letter below:  

OPEN LETTER TO HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS 

We write in response to recent discussions in the press about the upcoming election of a Speaker of the House Of Representatives, in particular whether Nancy Pelosi has sufficient support in your caucus to win the post.   We understand and respect the fact that you are all much better informed about your internal deliberations than any of us, that this is your matter to decide.  That is as it should be.  

However, as long time supporters of your caucus, and given the affection, and more importantly the respect, we have for Nancy, we feel compelled to share our view.  

Obviously we don’t have to explain to your group the enormous value Nancy brings as Leader.  Her effectiveness was the single most important element in achieving passage of the ACA.  Moreover, from a public perspective, the Caucus has had seamless unanimity as our country labors under the Trump/McConnell/Ryan assault on our democratic institutions, never-ending scandals, gross incompetence, and so much more.  

Because of her diligence, her powers of persuasion, her enormous effectiveness and her adherence to our values, we have provided a portion of the financial resources required to be competitive cycle after cycle.  We look forward to a day when we achieve the reforms necessary to reduce greatly the impact of money in elections.  But until that day we must do what is required to contest the Republicans on an equal playing field.

When it came to funding this recent effort to retake the Majority, would we have contributed anywhere near as much as we did if Nancy was not the Leader?   We think not.

We do not mean to suggest that our support is personality driven rather than intended to facilitate the adoption of public policies consistent with our values.  We fund these efforts because we want to give our kids and grandkids the same America our parents gave us.

But we do believe the competence and effectiveness of the Leader is a critical component in motivating us to reach in our pockets.  On that basis it is hard to imagine a replacement for Nancy engendering the same level of confidence at this critical time.  Your recent success in winning the majority is only a first step in changing our country’s direction.  As critical as it was, the coming cycle is even more so.  

Inserting ourselves into internal House Politics is not something we would normally do.  But if we lose Nancy, and the new Leader can only raise half the funding, the Republicans will not reduce their funding and we will be back to the structural disadvantage that prevailed for many years.  

Again, we respect the fact that this is your prerogative, but are hopeful you will take our views into consideration as you make this most important decision.  

One final point - we did not share with Nancy our intention to write this note, secure in the knowledge she would likely have forbade its publication!  

James Atwood
Philippe Brugere-Trelat
Jim Chanos
Mitchell Draizin
Jeff Gural
Judith Hope
Michael Kempner
Marsha Laufer
Maria Mckellar
Dennis Mehiel
Karen Mehiel
Keith Mestrich
Dick Ravitch
Ken Sunshine
Maureen White
Leslie Williams

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