The views expressed in any article published in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Joseph Foster or Bob Lupoli.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Direct Connection: Access & Legislative Favors

Joe:  here are some facts on what you already know, politicians take money from industries they regulate, in the military and other places in the government this is called a “conflict of interest” duh! The American people are losing! –Bob

House Financial Services Committee: Hotbed of Money From Financial Sector Interests



The House Financial Services Committee is a furnace in which legislation affecting Wall Street is forged. It's also a hotbed of money from individuals and political committee committees connected to the financial sector.

For instance, Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) raised $1.4 million from the finance, insurance and real estate sector during 2009 and 2010, with 84 percent of that sum came from industry PAC. 

Not only was the finance, insurance and real estate sector Bachus' top source of funds for his re-election, but they accounted for a huge portion of his overall campaign cash. About $6 out of every $10 he raised for his political war chest came from industries within this broad sector that are regularly affected by legislation within the Financial Services Committee's jurisdiction, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics.

And Bachus is not alone. 

The average member of the Financial Services Committee received about 75 percent more campaign money from industries under their jurisdiction than the average member of Congress, as the Center for Responsive Politics and The Fiscal Times noted earlier this week.

And here's another way to look at these ties between lawmakers and the interests they are overseeing.The membership of the House Financial Services Committee includes: 

Thirteen of the top 20 House beneficiaries of money from the finance and credit industry 
Twelve of the top 20 House beneficiaries of money from accountants
Eleven of the top 20 House beneficiaries of money from the savings and loans industry 
Ten of the top 20 House beneficiaries of money from commercial banks 
Nine of the top 20 House beneficiaries of money from credit unions 
Eight of the top 20 House beneficiaries of money from the securities/investment industry 
Eight of the top 20 House beneficiaries of money from the insurance industry 
Seven of the top 20 House beneficiaries of money from the real estate industry 

And if your 7th grade history lessons are failing you, there are 435 members of the House.

What these close ties mean is debatable. Some say the contributions mean nothing, while others say they bring access -- and legislative favors.

A campaign contribution "doesn't mean they are buying something" and a contribution "doesn't guarantee that you'll have success" with issues before a committee, Paul Miller, a lobbyist at Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies and a former president of the American League of Lobbyists, recently told OpenSecrets Blog.

However, Melanie Sloan, the executive director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan congressional watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), is convinced otherwise.

"They want something," Sloan told OpenSecrets Blog. "There is a direct connection between contributions and legislative action, no matter how much people deny it."

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