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Published — March 5, 2013 Updated — May 13, 2014 at 11:22 am ET

Joe Pitts takes genteel route to political riches

Pennsylvania Republican employs art tutoring, wine in bid to fill campaign coffer


Hunting animals at outdoorsy fundraisers earns politicians big bucks these days, as duck, geese, quail, dove, turkey, pheasant, alligator and antelope have all died in the name of helping re-elect both Democrats and Republicans.

But ahead of what’s almost certain in 2014 to be the most expensive congressional election in U.S. history, Rep. Joe Pitts, for one, is taking a decidedly more genteel approach to amassing cash.

For a $5,000 host-level donation, or $2,000 if you represent a political action committee, the conservative Pennsylvania Republican will bathe your palatte in vino while wooing your inner O’Keeffe.

“We provide pinot and everything you will need to paint!” an event invitation obtained by the Center for Public Integrity reads, noting in a rainbow of colors that the April 15 fundraiser is entitled “Sip & Paint.”

It continues: “Then sit and watch as Congressman Pitts guides you step by step to create your very own masterpiece!”

Without question, Pitts is deft with a brush and chisel.

Samples of his artwork, which include attractive portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, are proudly displayed on his congressional webpage. He’s the author and illustrator of a children’s book, How Stubby Lost His Tail, among other titles. He headlines community art shows and contests.

Pitts hasn’t faced strong competition in recent re-election campaigns, although he won less than 55 percent of the vote in a four-way race last autumn.

Percentage-wise, that’s his least impressive showing in more than a decade.

And the $184,000 in his campaign kitty as of Dec. 31, according to Federal Election Commission records, is hardly an overwhelming amount considering the average House candidate running for re-election last cycle raised about $1.75 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

So while you shouldn’t expect Pitts to shoot a goose for a buck, don’t be shocked if he shows you the one he’s carved out of wood when collecting contribution checks.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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