The ‘Sedition Caucus’ Is Funding Pro-Impeachment Republicans

The ‘Sedition Caucus’ Is Funding Pro-Impeachment Republicans 1

After the Jan. 6 insurrection, House Republicans appeared divided.

Those who objected to the 2020 election results seemed at odds with the Republicans who strayed from the MAGA pack—the lawmakers who upheld President Joe Biden’s victory, supported a bipartisan investigation of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and, most treacherously of all in their minds, voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump.

But you wouldn’t know it from the receipts.

In the months since the attack, committees affiliated with 63 of the 139 House Republicans who objected to the election results (the so-called “Sedition Caucus”) have given more than $650,000 to GOP counterparts who certified Trump’s defeat, federal filings show. The recipients even include two GOP lawmakers who impeached Trump for inciting an insurrection—Reps. David Valadao (R-CA) and John Katko (R-NY), who got more than $100,000 combined.

More than $200,000 of the total came from House leadership—Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who in May replaced MAGA pariah Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as party chair.

McCarthy, Scalise, and Stefanik all objected to certifying the election results, and all three voted to exonerate Trump and opposed the creation of a committee to investigate the events surrounding the riot. And yet, all are dishing out money to Republicans on the other side of those issues.

The money was split between 10 GOP recipients. Scalise, who is reportedly eyeing McCarthy’s leadership position, led the pack with $139,000 in donations, while McCarthy’s committees ponied up $40,000, and Stefanik chipped in $24,000.

Additionally, a joint fundraising committee affiliated with McCarthy—called Take Back the House 2022—has transferred more than $1.5 million to the group of 10, including roughly $260,000 to impeachers Katko and Valadao, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission data. The committee has raised a total $650,000 for five of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach.

While leaders don’t seem to have any issue doling out money to Republicans who crossed Trump, the most faithful Trump Republicans did generally avoid giving money to any GOP lawmaker on Trump’s bad side. Of the more notorious members of the “Sedition Caucus”—such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)—only Boebert appears to have donated to a Republican who voted to uphold the election, with a single $1,500 donation to Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) at the end of June.

Still, it’s clear that Republicans generally, both those who voted to overturn the election and those who voted to uphold it, are spreading money around. And most crucially, almost every Republican has made contributions to the National Republican Congressional Committee, which will divvy out campaign cash to the most vulnerable Republicans—whether they voted for impeachment, to decertify the election, or took any other position.

That is the internal clash between ideological posturing and political necessity. Over the course of the year, the tribal rhetoric from pro-Trump hardliners has given rise to a parallel MAGA universe where the gravity of the deadly riot has dwindled—its causes erased and rewritten. But that rhetoric belies the tacit reality that, in order to regain control of Congress, even the most hardened Republicans will need to support vulnerable incumbents across the board.

Of course, this also cuts the other way. The 10 members who accepted Sedition Caucus cash hold swing seats, and while they have all bucked the MAGA pressure to varying degrees, they may come under attack for taking money from those Republicans. Still, these vulnerable Republicans must also contend with what’s sure to be a grueling midterm campaign. And that takes money.

In that view, Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) is out front. The Orange County conservative, who in 2020 unseated incumbent Democrat Gil Cisneros in a close race, has reported $92,000 in contributions from objectors this year, FEC data shows.

Kim was followed by Reps. Miller-Meeks, Valadao, Rodney Davis (R-IL), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who have all accepted more than $50,000. The group was rounded out by Reps. Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Katko, Tony Gonzalez (R-TX), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Ann Wagner (R-MO), who received the least support: $41,000.

Four of the members—Fitzpatrick, Gonzalez, Katko, and Miller-Meeks—also voted in favor of an independent bipartisan Jan. 6 commission. And all four subsequently received thousands of dollars from Scalise, one of the commission’s most outspoken opponents. But when the GOP tanked that initial effort, only two objectors voted in favor of a select committee—Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)—and neither received Sedition Caucus funds.

After the Jan. 6 riot, the national campaign committee for GOP House incumbents said it would support all Republican members in their primaries. Tom Emmer, chair of McCarthy-aligned Take Back the House 2022, said the same thing.

“We don’t want the heavy hand of Washington stepping into the debate, the discussion, that constituents in a certain district are having over the representation. That being said, I absolutely want to see them win,” Emmer told CNN this summer.

Money, of course, is not enough to win elections. That also requires political support, which could be a tall order for a party still subservient to Trump’s whims and grudges.

In September, CNN reported that McCarthy and his surrogates had asked Trump and aides in his inner circle to go easy on Katko and Valadao. But the notoriously vengeful former president has not shown much interest in restraint.

For instance, this summer Trump endorsed a challenger to Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), slapping a seal of approval onto his former White House aide and “Music Man” Max Miller. But even though Miller’s campaign had already been riddled by allegations of violent behavior and domestic abuse, Gonzalez, who certified the election and voted to impeach Trump, bowed out of the race just weeks after the former president weighed in, chalking the decision up to a “toxic” Republican party.

Gonzalez was followed out the door by Kinzinger, one of two Republicans serving on the House select committee, who announced late last month that he too would not seek re-election.

“Our political parties only survive by appealing to the most motivated and the most extreme elements within it,” Kinzinger said at the time. “And the price tag to power has skyrocketed.”

While it’s still unclear how other pro-impeachment Republicans in the House will navigate the vines that snagged Gonzalez and Kinzinger, some have already displayed complacency.

The commission vote in May, for instance, illustrates the inscrutable matrix of Republican allegiances in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack. A number of members who voted to certify Biden’s election also voted against the bipartisan commission five months later. And some objectors who towed the line and blocked the investigation in May later gave money to officials who supported that commission. At the same time, another group of objectors voted in favor of the commission.

The decision to oust Cheney, which came around the same time, might be another tricky fault line, though that event ultimately went down in a voice vote behind closed doors.

Katko captured the complexity in an interview with reporters this May. The four-term Republican broke with the MAGA wing at all three other junctures—certification, impeachment, and the commission—but voiced support for Stefanik, an election objector and fellow New Yorker, in the event that Cheney got the boot.

“If something happens with Liz—and that remains to be seen—but if it does and she puts her name into the ring, I will absolutely support her,” Katko said of Stefanik. “She knows that if we ever want to be back in control of Congress again, people like me have to win and we have to flourish and we have to have a big tent as the Republican Party.”

Months later, Katko raked in $14,000 from Scalise. Stefanik, who supported his previous three campaigns, has not given him a dime.