TRAVERSE CITY — Congressman Dan Benishek is a bit of a rarity in Congress: he’s a surgeon, not a lawyer.
Now, there’s a new fundraising committee established to raise money for people like Benishek— surgeons who are also Republicans in the House of Representatives. The Surgeons Congressional Victory Fund was formed in September but hasn’t raised any money yet, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
It was set up in preparation for an event supporting House surgeons, according to Benishek spokesman Kyle Bonini. The fund, a joint fundraising committee, would enable attendees to write one check at the event instead of writing an individual check for each lawmaker.
The committee could then distribute the money among eligible campaigns.
Bonini did not respond to requests for more information about the fund or event.
“It’s a tool to empower wealthier donors to give all at once,” said Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a group that works to increase government transparency.
Contributions from joint fundraising committees are still subject to all the limitations of regular campaign committees.
The fund will contribute not only to Benishek’s campaign, but also those of Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). All of them are surgeons, and while they’re the only ones named on the fund’s filings right now, it’s possible that the fund could outlive the event and contribute to other campaigns in the future.
The fund is brand new. It reported no contributions or expenditures in its October report filed Tuesday. The quarterly report covers the period from July 1 to Sept. 30.
In a Sept. 16 filing, Benishek authorized four other, more established joint committees to spend money on his behalf, as well as his primary campaign committee, Benishek for Congress.
Benishek is an effective fundraiser, having outraised his opponent, Gary McDowell, $2,221,760 to $1,497,052 in the 2012 election.
Benishek garnered a significant amount of support from the medical community in the past. Outside of money from leadership Political Action Committees (PACS), PACS from the health professional industry have contributed the most to his campaigns --$396,175 -- throughout his federal political career, according to information from DC-based Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit that tracks political spending.
The industry’s support might not be personal— it was also the largest to contribute to Benishek predecessor Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak’s campaigns.
Some of Benishek’s top contributors include PACs and individuals affiliated with the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, American College of Surgeons Professional Association, American Interventional Pain Physicians, and the American College of Radiology.
Benishek’s campaign committee, Benishek for Congress, reported $308,686 in contributions over the last quarter.