An odd little thing happened a few months ago in the world of congressional fundraising. U.S. Representative Heath Shuler held a North Carolina BBQ, so that his constituents could come out and show their support – but the North Carolina BBQ wasn’t held in North Carolina. It took place in Washington D.C., at the headquarters of a company that specializes in facilitating meetings between members of Congress and corporate lobbyists.
You see, the constituents Congressman Shuler was interested in weren’t voters back home in the 11th congressional district of North Carolina. In this case, Shuler’s closest constituents were Washington D.C. power brokers.
Having a BBQ might seem folksy of Shuler, at first glance, but take a second glance and a very different picture emerges. It turns out that Shuler was was charging admission to that BBQ, and a very high price of admission at that: $1,000 for a plate of BBQ.
Is that how people hold barbeques down in North Carolina? I don’t think so. The whole affair was a Washington D.C. insider job. The BBQ wasn’t set up by North Carolina grassroots supporters. It was organized by professional political operatives at the D.C. firm Erickson & Company, which “specializes in campaign fundraising and finance strategies for both Democratic U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representative campaigns.” Erickson & Company is not a lobbying firm. Instead, it helps set up events like the Heath Shuler’s BBQ, at which lobbyists and other people seeking special favors can come, check in hand, to pay for access to elected officials and their aides.
Heath Shuler’s relationship with Erickson & Company is so tight that Shuler has an email account at the Erickson & Company domain name: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are 11 other members of the U.S. Congress that have Erickson & Company emails – all Democrats. Erickson & Company headquarters is located right next to the National Democratic Club and the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee – very cozy. The other 11 members of Congress with Erickson & Company emails are: