Charlotte Republican Robert Pittenger didn’t wait until he was elected to make his mark on the new Congress.
His Free Market political action committee gave out $132,000 to GOP congressional candidates from New Hampshire to California. That included $19,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Free Market is a so-called “leadership PAC,” a pot of money that candidates use to help elect other candidates. Leadership PACs are usually affiliated with incumbents, often to boost their chances for choice committee assignments or leadership posts.
Pittenger was one of a handful of non-incumbents who had one.
“It’s very unusual for a freshman or certainly for a non-member to have a leadership PAC,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “The phenomenon of leadership PACs has grown.”
Pittenger raised more than $3 million for his own 9th District campaign against Democrat Jennifer Roberts. That included nearly $2.3 million of his own money. Only four House candidates in the country reached deeper into their pocket, according to the Center.
Donors to the Free Market PAC consisted largely of North Carolina business people, including car dealer Felix Sabates, former Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis and Raleigh businessman Bob Luddy.
“Working with business leaders in the region, our purpose was to help elect candidates throughout the country who understood the need for free market reforms to get our economy moving again,” Pittenger said in a statement Tuesday.
His PAC gave money to dozens of candidates across the country, including Republican David Rouzer, who lost to Democrat Mike McIntyre in North Carolina’s 7th District.
Pittenger already appears to have allies in House leadership. This week, he won a seat on the influential House Financial Services committee.
“While it is unusual for a freshman representative to be appointed to such an important committee,” House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement, “I feel Robert Pittenger’s experience as a small businessman and common-sense approach will be an asset as we seek solutions to … strengthen our economy.”