Maryland Dem Skirts Self-Imposed Corporate Money Ban with Corporate Lobbyist Fundraiser

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) / Getty Images
April 7, 2021

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), who publicly shuns corporate PAC money, is set to hold a fundraiser with corporate lobbyists.

McAllister & Quinn, a D.C.-based government relations firm, will hold a virtual breakfast fundraiser for Van Hollen on April 14, according to the invitation for the event. Although Van Hollen prohibits corporate PACs from donating to his campaign, his fundraiser host, McAllister & Quinn, represents several corporate interests.

In 2020, the group's client list included L3Harris Technologies, a global aerospace and defense company, Progeny Systems Corporation, which develops software for the Department of Defense, and Veeco Instruments, a company that produces devices used in artificial intelligence.

Suggested donations for the event range from $500 to $5,000, according to the invitation.

Van Hollen, who recently called for greater accountability and transparency in corporate political spending, is no stranger to lobbyist cash. During the 2016 election cycle, the senator received the most donations from federally registered lobbyists out of any member of Congress. He pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars more in lobbyist cash than Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), the second-highest recipient that cycle.

Van Hollen has joined a slew of other Democratic politicians in rejecting corporate PAC donations. The "no corporate PAC" pledge, however, can easily be sidestepped by executives. Like other PACs, corporate PACs are capped at giving $5,000 to a campaign. If one c-level executive from a corporation gives the max individual amount to a campaign ($5,800) during an election cycle, however, that alone would eclipse the cash a politician could receive from their respective corporate PAC.

Corporate PACs are not bankrolled by corporations themselves but rather by employees who work for the companies.

Although the invitation notes corporate PAC contributions are prohibited, Van Hollen is soliciting money from other PACs. A number of high-profile Democrats have taken money from federal PACs that are heavily financed by corporate PACs since backing the ban—a loophole Van Hollen has exploited, according to Federal Election Commission filings. His campaign received thousands from Sens. Gary Peters's (D., Mich.) Motor City PAC, Brian Schatz's (D., Hawaii) Hawaii PAC, and Patty Murray's (D., Wash.) M-PAC, all of which received large sums from corporate PACs.

Van Hollen's campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the fundraiser.