The second quarter Federal Election Commission campaign reports are out, and three of the top GOP House fundraisers, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), are raking in cash.
The trio is considered to be among the more controversial and outspoken House members. Just last week, the executive director of a prominent fundraising group for GOP women called Greene and Boebert “shameless self-promoters and carnival barkers.”
Both congresswomen have been criticized for inflammatory language and questionable behavior, particularly on the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That didn’t hurt their fundraising. Greene brought in over $1 million and Boebert nearly that much, according to FEC filings.
Earlier this year, Greene was stripped of her committee assignments after expressing support for violence against Democrats; she also has come under criticism from Republicans for her remarks about the Holocaust.
Gaetz has been mired in controversy as investigators examine whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws, according to The Hill. But he took in $1.4 million despite having to refund 50 campaign donations.
Although those numbers are smaller than what the top House GOP leaders raised during the second quarter, they are a reflection of how controversy is paying off handsomely for some lawmakers who match inflammatory and sometimes outrageous comments with high-profile presences on cable news and social media.
As political reporter Josh Kraushaar commented on the second quarter reports, “It literally pays to be extreme.”
The three members of Congress are considered backbenchers with little power, but all have a very high profile on social media and conservative news outlets.
They are some of the most visible fire-breathers in the Republican party. They have parlayed outrage into campaign cash — most of it from small-dollar donors who like what they are hearing.
Critics, including members of their own party, call them crackpots. But though they may not be taken seriously as legislators, no one is denying they have an audience. They also have leveraged extremism to become some of the most prolific fundraisers in Congress.
What does that say about our current state of politics in America?
It should give us all pause, especially as the far right and the far left morph into unrecognizable entities and politicians are able to raise campaign funds by being extreme.