VenturePAC Stays Kinda Red

The midterm elections are just three weeks away, with most polls indicating that the House will go Democratic and that the Senate is a toss-up. So I figured that this was a good time to check in on the check-writing activities of VenturePAC, the political action committee that is voluntarily funded by certain member firms of the National Venture Capital Association. VenturePAC’s litmus test is twofold: (1) Does a candidate support the NVCA’s position on key issues like R&D spending and “fixing” Sarbanes-Oxley; and (2) Is the candidate likely to win? It is part two of that equation that best explains why VenturePAC typically supports more Republicans than Democrats. We last discussed the numbers in April of this year, and found that the group had donated $386,500 to GOP candidates and causes from January 2005 through March 2006, compared to $206,000 to Democratic candidates and causes. That’s around 65% vs. 35%. At the time, NVCA president Mark Heesen felt that the Dems had a decent shot of gaining House control, but that the GOP would almost certainly retain Senate control. Given recent political wind shifts, one might assume that VenturePAC might have narrowed the partisan gap a bit, but it’s actually grown. Between April and August, VenturePAC has contributed around $129,000 to GOP causes and candidates, compared to just $57,000 to Democratic causes and candidates (69% vs. 31%). Moreover, VenturePAC supported just six candidates running for open seats or as challengers – with each one of them wearing red. In terms of the tight Senate races, VenturePAC contributed to both Tom Keane Jr. (NJ) and Jim Talent (MO) during the April-August period. I asked Heesen about the numbers yesterday, and he told me that “we are not going to turn our back on those who have been our friends.” He also stressed that VenturePAC is far more Democrat-friendly than are most other business PACs, and that the group will be well-positioned to work with whichever party wins whichever house of Congress. It is worth reemphasizing that the available data is only through Aug. 31, which means that VenturePAC might have changed course a bit as the political wind shift became more apparent. For example, VenturePAC did contribute last month to Tim Mahoney, the vFinance co-founder running for Mark Foley’s old seat (note: VenturePAC did contribute to Foley twice in 2005, but not this year). I also asked Heesen if VenturePAC had contributed to Connecticut Senatorial candidate Ned Lamont, who founded a VC-backed business and who is married to a prominent venture capitalists. He responded that Lamont does not accept PAC contributions. Once the votes are tallied, I’ll let you know how VenturePAC did overall…