House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was once caught remarking that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher might be the one member of Congress paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin, is now headlining a fundraiser for him, according to an invitation reviewed by McClatchy.
"I cannot confirm or deny that Moscow Mules will be served at the event," said Jason Pitkin, who answered the phone at the number listed on the invitation and identified himself as Rohrabacher's campaign finance director. He referenced the drink when a reporter asked, generally, about the type of beverages that would be served. "However, I do know that is one of Congressman Rohrabacher's preferred adult beverages."
The fundraiser is slated for Sunday, July 23, and tickets cost $2,700 a person, according to the invitation. The event comes several months after the Washington Post reported a tape that captured McCarthy remarking, "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump."
McCarthy, who like Rohrabacher is a California Republican, has said that the comment was meant as a joke. His office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the fundraiser (or the possible beverage selection).
Rohrabacher, who is perhaps the staunchest defender of Russia in Congress, is under fire from his Democratic opponents for his friendliness toward Putin and assortment of connections to various Russian figures. Hillary Clinton won his district — by less than two percentage points — in November, and national Democrats are seeking to make inroads against Rohrabacher, in part by seizing on his Russia record.
He has held the seat since 1988 and has significant advantages as an incumbent.
McCarthy's presence at the fundraiser, Pitkin said, "shows that there is support for Dana, and that this Russia hysteria narrative from the media is totally overblown."
Jason Beck is also listed on the invitation as the finance chairman, and he confirmed the details of the event in a brief interview. Beck works in the cannabis industry, and in another email circulated about the event, urged recipients to join “myself and other business and cannabis professionals” for the fundraiser on Rohrabacher’s behalf, and to work to change McCarthy’s “perception and position on the Medical Cannabis Industry.”
Rohrabacher helped found the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.