Money in the House

Campaign Funds and Congressional Party Politics

Marian Currinder

First Edition • August 1, 2008 • 256 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813343792 • $38.00 USD$53.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786731787 • $22.99 USD$26.99 CAN

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Money in the House provides a compelling look at how the drive to raise campaign money has come to dominate congressional party politics. Author Marian Currinder examines the rise of member-to-member and member-to-party giving as part of a broader process that encourages ambitious House members to compete for power by raising money for the party and its candidates. As the margin between parties in the House has narrowed, the political environment has become fiercely competitive. Because electoral success is largely equated with fundraising success, the party that raises the most money is at a distinct advantage. In addition to relying on outside interests and individuals for campaign contributions, the congressional parties increasingly call on their own members to give for the good of the whole. As result, lawmakers must devote ever-increasing amounts of time to fundraising. The fundraising expectations for members who wish to advance in the chamber are even higher. By requiring their members to raise and redistribute tremendous amounts of money in order to gain power in the chamber, the parties benefit from their members’ ambitious pursuits. Currinder argues that the new “rule of money” is fundamentally altering the way House members pursue power and the way congressional parties define and reward loyalty.

Marian Currinder is a senior fellow for the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University. She has also taught at the College of Charleston and the University of Florida.


Chapter 1—Campaign Funds and Congressional Party Politics: An Overview

Chapter 2—Pursuing Ambition in a Congressional Parties Framework

Chapter 3—The 1970s Reform Era: The Money Chase Begins

Chapter 4—The 1980s: New Directions in Campaign Funding

Chapter 5—A Republican Revolution in Politics and Money: The Gingrich Era

Chapter 6—Paying to Play: Redistributing Money in the Post-Gingrich Era

Chapter 7—Campaign Funds and the New Democratic Majority



“Marian Currinder’s book is essential reading for every serious observer of American politics. With attention to detail and useful theoretical perspective, Currinder weaves together developments in American election campaigns, parties, incumbency, Congress, and political money to account for the development of the modern congressional campaign committees. Many readers will be surprised about the role of campaign money in building centralized parties in the House of Representatives and the extent to which the fundraising capacity of individual legislators has been corralled by the parties. You cannot think, teach, or write about today’s congressional politics without absorbing the lessons of this book.”
—Steven S. Smith, Director, Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, Kate M. Gregg Professor of Social Sciences, Professor of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis

“Marian Currinder’s Money in the House delivers more than its title suggests. In this thoughtful treatment, the author shows ‘leadership PACs’ to be marvelous vantage points from which to observe the causes and consequences of thirty years worth of far-reaching changes in the balance between the Members’ personal and collective ambitions, the electoral role of party leaders, and some of the more and less subtle ways in which the Members’ electoral incentives have altered the governing process. This book deserves a place on the bookshelves of anyone with an interest in the contemporary role of parties in legislative politics.”
—Michael J. Malbin, University at Albany, SUNY; The Campaign Finance Institute

Money in the House starts with a basic reality—that money has become increasingly central to Congress and its members—and provides a comprehensive and insightful look at how the role of money in campaigns has changed and how it has affected the relationships between leaders and rank-and-file members and between majority and minority parties. The book is about more than money—it gives us a fascinating window into how Congress operates in the larger political environment.”
—Norman Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute

“Marian Currinder explores the link between electoral competitiveness and internal legislative dynamics in the US House. By tracing the evolution of fundraising as a career-building tool for members, Currinder warns of the costs this trend has for the making of public policy. Students of Congress and political campaigns will find a comprehensive story of how the post-modern House emerged.”
—Robin Kolodny, Temple University

“Currinder has produced a fine little primer that explains the importance of money in the House of Representatives. Money—‘the mother’s milk of politics’—is central to getting elected, staying elected, and gaining and retaining positions of power in the House hierarchy. … This is a fascinating look at the inner workings of Congress, well written, and free from jargon. Highly recommended.”

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