Jeremy Alford

Melancon spreads the love

by Jeremy Alford

Despite being unopposed this fall, U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon still managed to raise more than $49,500 during the third quarter of the year. But rather than blow it all on himself, Melancon used the dough to financially back Democrats in 24 other states, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

In a move that smacks of a political Robin Hood, Melancon, who represents portions of Acadiana, raised most of the money – $47,000 – from political action committees, or PACs, before turning it over to needy candidates. In total, he sent $42,000 to other Democratic campaigns in recent months.

But the figure pales in comparison to Melancon’s total cash on hand. He has more than $828,000 in his own campaign war chest. As Democratic campaigns enter the final stretch heading into the Nov. 4 election, Melancon will be a good friend to have.

So, aside from being unopposed, why is Melancon inserting himself into other races? “I’m trying to get more PLUs elected, which means ‘People Like Us’,” Melancon says. “I’m looking for conservative Blue Dog Democrats who understand pay-as-you-go and who want to get the budget where it should be.”

Melancon says the contributions also give him an opportunity to lobby other members of Congress on issues important to the 3rd Congressional District, such as coastal restoration, hurricane protection, oil production and a fair approach to redistricting.

More importantly, the money gives him political leverage and allows him to build influence and clout. “It certainly doesn’t hurt, but that’s not my objective,” says Melancon. “Donating money like this to other Democrats isn’t uncommon. A lot of people are doing it right now.”

So far, Melancon is financially backing candidates in Missouri, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Iowa, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio, Georgia, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Wyoming, Michigan, Wisconsin, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico, Indiana, Maryland and Colorado.

Melancon also gave another $5,000 during the third quarter to PACs that back Democratic candidates around the country.