Excerpts From Interview with
Lobbyist David Rehr of the National Beer Wholesalers.

© 1996 Hedrick Smith Productions, Inc.

Congress & Lobbyists: The Inside Influence Game

HS: Have the Rublicans fundraising tactics changed now that they are the majority?

REHR: Sometimes the Republicans get dumped on because they're raising PAC money and they're, you know, looking for contributions, and they're trying to hire people in the Washington firms that are loyal to them. That all has to happen in order for them to retain control and to increase their margins in the next election. I mean, they're not going to walk away from money saying, "Well, now that we're in the majority, we don't need to fund raise anymore." I mean that would be suicide...

HS: How important are your contributions and other (beer) wholesalers contributions to playing the money game?

REHR: For the 1995-96 campaign cycle, we'll probably raise 1.4 million dollars from beer wholesalers and their eligible employees. My pitch to the beer wholesalers are very simple. This is partly insurance. We want to elect people who understand business, who understand small business, and who understand the beer business. And the goal of our PAC is to have a pro small business, pro beer wholesaler Congress. And those are the kind of people we want here and we aggressively support them. In terms of back home, you know, it's TV, it's consultants, it's polling, telephone operations have all made campaigns quite expensive as you well know. And unless you have the money, you just don't have a realistic shot of winning...

HS: How does the fundraising work?

REHR: We usually get fund-raising invitations in one of three ways. Number one, an invitation card or a letter saying, "I'm having a fund-raiser. I'd like you to come." Number two, we will get a personal call from a professional fund-raiser who's working for the member of Congress or the Senator saying, "We're having a fund-raiser. We'd really like you to be here." Number three is when the member will personally call from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee if they're Democrats or from the National Republican Congressional Committee if they're Republicans. You know, that's when the phone rings. It's Congressman X or Congresswoman Y on the phone, and they say, "Hi, David. I'm having a fund-raiser. I'd like you to come. Can you? And a, a lot of the, uh, uh, are, "Yes, you've been with us. You know, we really appreciate you. We want to help you." Sometimes you have to tell people no and it upsets them. Say, "You know we'd like to be with you but you know you don't have a voting record that's very good with the future of our, the livelihood of our membership...

HS: What type of candidate do you target for help?

REHR: We disproportionately help challenged candidates, open seat candidates, younger members like the freshman class because that's when they'll remember you the most, early on. Once they've been in Congress ten years or they've been in the Congress twelve years or they run for the Senate and they've been there two terms, they kind of, they remember who helped them in the beginning. And that's our goal, to be remembered who helped them in the beginning...

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