Rep. Joe Heck has established a personal political action committee as a strategy to build friendships and influence colleagues in the U.S. House.
Paperwork setting up the Full House PAC was submitted this week to the Federal Election Committee, a filing first noticed by Bloomberg News.
Once the province of senior lawmakers, such “leadership PACs” have become common as a way for lawmakers to expand their presence. The Center of Responsive Politics counts roughly 350 of them.
In the Nevada delegation, Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller have leadership PACs, as does Rep. Dina Titus. Reps. Mark Amodei and Steven Horsford do not have leadership PACs — or at least not yet.
Heck, an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, was serving military duty this weekend and could not be reached, his spokesman Greg Lemon said.
Lemon said the second-term Nevada Republican established his political action committee as an outgrowth of his work on the House Republican Steering Committee, which advises party leaders on committee assignments and policy.
The political action committee “is reflective of the congressman’s continued growth and effectiveness and the recognition of his abilities,” Lemon said.
Leadership PACS can gather and spend contributions in larger sums than a candidate’s regular campaign committee, providing another avenue for donor cash. Individuals can contribute up to $5,000 per year to a leadership PAC, in addition to money sent to the same lawmaker’s campaign fund.
The funds are used for things like travel, but more commonly they are redistributed to other lawmakers and candidates in the form of campaign contributions.
“Leadership PACs are designed for two things: to make money and to make friends,” wrote Summer Lollie of the Center for Responsive Politics.
Heck won re-election in November but already has been targeted in the 2014 election. Democrats have taken note of the relatively even split between Democrats and Republicans in his 3rd Congressional District and the fact that President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney among its voters.
Erin Bilbray-Kohn, a Las Vegas political consultant and Democratic national committeewoman, has spoken with party officials in Washington about the possibility of running against Heck.
With a leadership PAC in hand, it’s expected Heck will take steps to start filling it. Lemon said no fundraising events have been scheduled yet,