WASHINGTON -- Nothing says party unity like matching ties and tote bags.
Perhaps that’s what House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was thinking when his campaign committee dropped $6,195 at the Stamford, Connecticut, branch of preppy retail outlet Vineyard Vines.
Scalise’s political director, Tyler Daniel, said the congressman spent the money on items for the whip team, a primarily private list of Republican lawmakers who represent different interests within the party. According to Scalise’s campaign team, the ties and totes were this year’s traditional whip team gift, which is given to members at the beginning of a new session of Congress.
“He takes being on the team pretty seriously. This was just a way to wear the team jersey,” Daniel said.
Daniel said the ties and tote bags were not adorned with Vineyard Vines' signature whales or even little Republican elephants. Daniel would not say which members of Congress are part of the whip team.
Though he’s occupied the whip job for less than a year, Scalise has proved himself to be a formidable fundraiser. Despite recent revelations about past ties to a group started by white supremacist David Duke, Scalise raised a record-breaking $1.5 million for his re-election campaign and leadership PAC between Jan. 1 and March 31. According to The Hill, the fundraising feat impressed Republican strategists and donors.
Daniel said the the scandal didn’t deter donors from giving to the congressman.
“Folks that have supported Mr. Scalise forever know his true character and know who Mr. Scalise truly is,” Daniel said.
The matching ties were only a small part of the congressman’s overall spending this year. According to NOLA.com, Scalise gave $350,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, as well as $250,000 to Republican members of Congress.