Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) have given nearly $1 million in combined donations to their colleagues during a fundraising cycle in which Republican challengers are poised to make significant gains.
Both incumbent congressmen face relatively weak Republican challenges in their own re-election campaigns for Nov. 2, and so have diverted more money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The committee directs dollars to the congressional races where Democrats need them most. Many House Democrats from around the nation are fighting for their political lives this year, with polls indicating Republicans will win enough seats Tuesday to gain control of the House.
Sherman and Schiff's races are seen as relatively safe, as they have more money and name recognition than their rivals — Mark Reed and John Colbert, respectively — and represent Democratic-leaning districts.
In 2009-10, Sherman says his campaign has given more than $746,000 to other Democrats. That includes $517,500 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and nearly $229,000 to candidates ranging from other House Democrats to California gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Brown.
"I'm proud of it," Sherman said, noting that a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it easier for corporations and unions to pay for influential political ads that are not directly tied to candidates.
"Given the large amount of money given by corporations secretly, I felt I had to step forward," he said.
Sherman has also hosted fundraisers for others, including an August event for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Burbank.
Schiff has given more than $163,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2009-10 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Since he was first elected to Congress in 2000, records show Schiff has given more than $816,000 to the committee.
"Adam has always been supportive of other good candidates around the country," said Schiff campaign spokesman Parke Skelton. "The battle terrain is extraordinarily broad this year, and the needs for funding are major because there are so many seats in play."
The donations are part of a river of cash flowing toward House races as election day nears. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $129 million through Oct. 13, while the National Republican Congressional Committee had raised $107 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
But John Pitney, Jr., a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College, said Schiff and Sherman are expected to pay dues to the committees.
"One reason they do it is simple," Pitney said. "They have to."
He also said the donations are strategic investments for both the parties and the candidate. Parties put the money into races where it is most needed.
For example, in 2010 the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has given Pennsylvania candidate Timothy Burns, who is trying to win the seat of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha, more than $480,000.
The money also helps the donor, Pitney said.
"Some members are ambitious to move up in the party ranks, and you get the gratitude of the leadership and the members by giving campaign money," he said.