Lawmaker Links Bill, Donations

Hours before the House approved energy legislation Thursday, Democratic Rep. Ed Markey (search) sent a fundraising pitch telling prospective donors how he planned to vote and asking them to send him campaign contributions.

Markey's fundraising e-mail noted amendments he unsuccessfully proposed to the legislation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee (search) last week. He said the proposals were aimed at increasing passenger vehicles' average fuel efficiency.

Markey, D-Mass., also mentioned his unsuccessful proposal in the House Resources Committee to remove an item in the bill that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuse (search) to oil drilling. He noted that the Republican-sponsored energy bill would be up for a vote by the full House "in a few short hours."

"Help me continue to fight to expose to the American people the dangers of this extreme and ineffective action by making a contribution today," Markey wrote in the e-mail Wednesday, providing a link readers could click to donate to his House campaign fund.

"Today, I will offer these amendments again on the House floor," Markey continued. "This series of votes is a critical moment for our country's energy future. I need your help now to expose the travesty of this Republican energy plan and ensure that this horrendous bill, rife with handouts to the special interests, is ultimately defeated."

The e-mail is an example of the kind of fundraising the Internet makes possible, said Larry Noble, head of the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based campaign finance watchdog group.

"It's kind of 'up-to-the-minute' fundraising," Noble said. "It shows you how they can capitalize on what's going on at the moment."

Noble said the e-mail seemed to stop short of the type of pitch that can get lawmakers in trouble, such as solicitations that tell prospective donors "if you want your views heard, make sure you contribute to me or attend this fundraiser."

Asked about Markey's mix of policy with fundraising, Markey campaign spokesman Mark Gallagher said he saw no problem with it.

"There's nothing inappropriate about asking your friends to support you when you are making powerful enemies by fighting for the public interest," Gallagher said.

Markey told e-mail recipients their "immediate contribution" was needed to "shine a light on the Republican Party's backroom attempts to cater to the special interests." The e-mail was sent from Markey's campaign office, Gallagher said.

When the House debated the bill Thursday, Markey unsuccessfully proposed his amendments and voted against the legislation. The energy bill passed 249-183.

Markey is not the only lawmaker citing his energy proposals in fundraising solicitations.

Last month, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry sent an e-mail ahead of a Senate energy vote explaining an amendment he and another senator planned to offer to the legislation and asking donors to help finance "an emergency ad campaign" to fight the bill's provision on Arctic drilling.

Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president last year, is up for re-election to his Senate seat in 2008. Markey is up for re-election next year.