Report: Democrat Rep. Elaine Luria brings in Nearly $200K from Corporate PACs After Dropping Pledge

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) listens as Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) speaks during a business meet
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vulnerable Democrat Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) has reportedly brought in nearly $200,000 of donations from corporate PACs since dropping her pledge not to be bought off from corporations at the end of 2020.

First elected in 2018, Luria initially promised that she would not take campaign contributions from corporate PACs. However, at the tail end of the 2020 election, Luria was the first Democrat to reverse her policy of refusing those types of donations and received more than $30,000 in contributions from a long list of corporate PACs to pay off roughly $34,000 in campaign debt.

Since then, Luria’s latest year-end campaign finance filing showed that she accepted nearly $200,000 in contributions from the same corporate PACs she once swore off, most likely attempting to raise a war chest to fight off any candidates looking to unseat her, as Republicans have sought out her seat since she flipped the seat blue in 2018.

Washington Post pointed out that it is not “unusual” for candidates, especially incumbents, to take corporate PAC money who are running in tough elections, but that it is “unusual” that she should take corporate money after previously swearing it off in her 2018 election. The year Luria swore off corporate PAC money, the average campaign contribution taken in by vulnerable Democrats was $348,000, according to data compiled by End Citizens United. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) was the second Democrat to reverse her pledge.

The Post wrote:

Since then she pulled in an additional $162,000 — including from PACs for more than a dozen defense contractors, such as Northrop Grumman and the Boeing Company — for a total of $196,000. Luria — whose Virginia Beach-anchored district includes a large population of veterans and active-duty military, and where defense-related contracts are integral to the district’s economy — is a former Navy commander who sits on the House Armed Services Committee.

That roughly $200,000 is still just a fraction of the $2.8 million that Luria has raised in total, the majority from individual donors — but it’s a substantial amount compared to her Republican opponents, enough to make a dent in a competitive race. The $200,000 represents just under one-third of the $665,000 the apparent front-runner in the Republican primary, state Sen. Jen A. Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), has raised; Kiggans has a total of $342,000 on hand, with no corporate PAC money.

Luria no doubt faces a similar quandary in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, a swing district that only got redder after redistricting. Ever since Luria flipped the district blue in 2018, national Republicans have been vying to win it back, with conservative PACs such as the Club for Growth or the Congressional Leadership Fund — House Republicans’ super PAC — spending millions of dollars on ads against her. That may have presented a choice for Luria between maximizing her campaign war chest as much as possible — or facing political consequences for going back on a promise she made in 2018.

The spokesman for Luria was “unavailable to comment” on the matter. He referred questions to the Democrat’s campaign arm, the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), who also did not comment.

Adam Bozzi, a spokesman for End Citizens United, argued that corporate PAC money is not from the rank-and-file employees, noting that upper-level management, executives, or shareholders generally have the most control of where the PAC’s money goes. “They lobby for corporate interests. They’re not secretive about that. That’s why they exist.”

Michael Gilbert, director of the University of Virginia School of Law’s Center for Public Law and Political Economy, added that lawmakers representing a particular district are more or less responsive for businesses there.

“Lots of people in politics and beyond I think would say it’s perfectly reasonable to take these contributions,” Gilbert said. “Those corporations employ people, and those corporations make important goods and provide important services … You would be a poor representative if you ignored the needs of businesses in your community.”

House Republican-aligned organizations questioned Luria’s allegiance to her constituents for accepting corporate PAC money after originally swearing it off.

Camille Gallo, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), said, “Virginians know Elaine Luria will never keep her word to them and will be fired in November.”

“Luria’s actions continue to prove to Virginians that she just can’t keep her word,” added Cally Perkins, the press secretary for the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF). “If she can’t follow through on even the most central promise of her campaign, how can voters trust anything else Luria says?”

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.


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