Further Reading

Two more senators ditch corporate PACs

Open Secrets - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 10:44

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Two Senate Democrats joined a group of congressional incumbents running for reelection who have sworn off contributions from corporate political action committees (PACs).

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Tuesday announced on Twitter that they would join at least 10 other members of Congress in rejecting donations from corporate PACs in their upcoming reelection campaigns.

“Because of the corrosive effects of corporate money I have decided from this point on I will not be accepting corporate PAC checks into my campaign,” Gillibrand said in a Tuesday video.

Booker announced a similar pledge in a Tuesday night tweet, saying “our campaign finance system is broken.”

A corporate PAC is a committee funded primarily by employee and individual contributions — not from corporate treasuries — and have a $5,000 per-candidate, per-cycle donation limit. Neither candidate has said they plan to reject individual donations from employees of corporations.

End Citizens United, a nonprofit that opposes corporate money in politics, hailed the move as a victory.

“Right now, we’re seeing a wave of candidates rejecting corporate PAC money and taking a stand against the rigged system,” Anne Feldman, a spokeswoman for ECU, said in an email. “By making this commitment, Senator Gillibrand, Booker and others are showing they will fight for people and not corporate interests.”

Corporate PAC donations make up just a small percentage of campaign funding for incumbents, such as Gillibrand and Booker, who have accepted millions in PAC donations from banks, pharmaceutical companies, and international and corporate interests, FEC data shows.

Since running for Congress, Gillibrand has accepted $4.9 million from business PACs — 9.7 percent of her total fundraising. Her top PAC donors include Goldman Sachs, UBS AG and Morgan Stanley.

Booker, with one run for Senate under his belt, has accepted $1.8 million from business PACs — 8 percent of his total fundraising. His top PAC donors include JP Morgan Chase, Verizon, and law firms Connell Foley and DLA Piper.

Gillibrand’s highest PAC contributor and Booker’s second highest was the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

Top Corporate PACs and Contribution Totals (Career) ContributorTotalIndividualsPACs Pfizer Inc$142,253$106,755$35,498 Goldman Sachs$171,540$141,540$30,000 UBS AG$111,470$86,470$25,000 Morgan Stanley$177,025$153,525$23,500 Corning Inc$208,120$185,620$22,500 Citigroup Inc$111,308$91,308$20,000 National Amusements Inc$143,510$128,510$15,000 Akin, Gump et al$123,215$109,650$13,565 EMILY's List$182,273$171,148$11,125 JPMorgan Chase & Co$176,935$166,935$10,000 Top Corporate PACs and Contribution Totals (Career) ContributorTotalIndividualsPACs Connell Foley LLP$41,350$13,350$28,000 Pfizer Inc$29,675$8,175$21,500 DLA Piper$77,100$57,100$20,000 Cozen O'Connor$48,221$29,616$18,605 Cablevision Systems$22,800$5,200$17,600 Merck & Co$59,225$43,225$16,000 Verizon Communications$45,203$29,203$16,000 Comcast Corp$44,280$29,280$15,000 Becton, Dickinson & Co$25,550$10,550$15,000 United Continental Holdings$45,175$31,175$14,000

Neither candidate has said they plan to return corporate contributions or reject the support of super PACs, which can raise and spend an unlimited amount on behalf of a candidate. The announcements also didn’t acknowledge the corporate dollars donated to party and leadership PACs that so often funnel into personal campaign accounts.

The senators follow a pack of other congressional candidates — mostly Democrats — who have made similar no-corporate PAC pledges. Around 70 candidates have sworn off those contributions thus far, Feldman said.

Other incumbent senators taking the pledge include Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

House members include Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), according to ECU.

The no-corporate PAC pledges appear to mean different things to different candidates. For instance, according to details reported by Roll Call, Gillibrand’s ban includes for-profit companies, trade associations and law firms, but excludes money from labor unions and ideological groups. Meanwhile, some of these candidates have accepted contributions this cycle from certain trade associations and corporations.

Last year, fundraising by PACs reached an all-time high of $2.2 billion, a number that, 20 years earlier, was $450.9 million. Already this cycle PACs have raised $1.2 billion, according to Center for Responsive Politics data.

In her statement, Gillibrand cited the 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed super PACs to spend unlimited sums of money in support of — or in opposition to — candidates as long they spend independently of the campaign. But the court decision has little to do with corporate PACs. Other cases, such as the 2014 McCutcheon v. FEC decision, which removed caps on the amount an individual can donate to PACs, have played a bigger role in their  growth and influence.

Some candidates who have taken the pledge have gathered a following. Gillibrand, Booker, Warren and Sanders have all been eyeballed as candidates for the 2020 presidential race.

In addition, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are all facing challengers who have refused corporate PAC money.

Last quarter, Cruz was outraised by his no-PAC Democratic challenger O’Rourke. While Cruz still leads the funding race by nearly $10 million, O’Rourke saw a jump in a recent telephone poll after pollsters noted that he was not accepting PAC contributions.

“I think the real way to change money in politics is to win this election without PACs and just ensure that it’s the people I want to represent who are primarily funding this,” O’Rourke said in a January interview.

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Categories: Further Reading

The effect of congressional retirements

Open Secrets - Tue, 02/13/2018 - 09:23

Photo by Jomar Thomas on Unsplash

The 115th Congress has seen a high number of Republican retirements.

So far, 22 House Republicans and three Republican senators plan to retire at the end of the year. That doesn’t include eight more Republicans who have already resigned from Congress.

By comparison, only nine House Democrats and not a single Senate Democrat have announced plans to retire at the end of the 115th Congress, which concludes in early January 2019. Several Democrats — most notably, former senator Al Franken — have resigned already from Congress but still fewer than the Republican total. In addition, a dozen Republican House members are running for either governor or the Senate. Only seven Democrats are doing the same.

The practical effect is that Democrats have more opportunities in the 2018 elections. Open seats are usually harder to defend than those held by incumbents. Looking at elections for Congresses back to the 101st provides some useful comparisons.

Retirements by House members since 1990 CongressElectionRetirementsDemocratsRepublicans 115201831922 114201625718 1132014261115 1122012241410 111201019118 110200824321 10920061138 108200418612 107200219712 106200019316 105199821129 1041996352213 103199426206 1021992513120 10119901156 Totals are for House members who retired (or plan to retire) at the end of the Congress. The table excludes those who died, resigned or ran for other offices.


In the early 1990s, the 102nd Congress saw the greatest number of retirements — not surprising between the effects of redistricting and the House banking scandal. More Democrats than Republicans retired at the end of the session, but the House had a Democratic majority at the time.

Better comparisons for the current Congress are the 103rd and 110th Congresses. In both cases, one party had a much higher number of retirements than the other. In both cases, the party with more retirements suffered significant losses in the election. 1994, of course, saw Republicans take control of the House for the first time in 40 years. 2008 saw the Democrats increase their control of the House as Barack Obama was elected President.

So the fact that more House Republicans are already declining to seek re-election after this session than in any Congress since 101st is probably not a good sign for the Republicans.

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Categories: Further Reading

Intra-party battles fuel primary spending

Open Secrets - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 09:51

Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Voters still have more than eight months before the 2018 general elections, but some incumbent members of Congress are facing much earlier primary tests from members of their own party.

While these elections might not determine who controls the House and Senate next year, they could shift the ideological balance of power within the two parties.

Here, we explore the money side of some of the earlier contests where the incumbent faces being “primaried.”

Illinois has one of the country’s earliest primaries, and two Illinois congressional races are seeing Democratic incumbents struggle to raise money against primary challengers. In Illinois’ 7th District — which covers downtown Chicago and extends to the western suburbs — incumbent Danny Davis faces Anthony Clark, a high school teacher and local activist. Although neither candidate has raised much money (Davis has raised $189,000, and Clark has raised only $47,000), Clark has raised more money from individual donors both large and small than Davis.

Davis, having represented the district since 1997, has the advantage of a sizable war chest with close to $300,000 cash on hand compared to Clark’s $9,000. Clark is best known as a progressive activist, but Davis isn’t particularly moderate and has previously received the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America.

The 3rd District faces what appears to be a closer race, certainly as far as money is concerned. The 3rd District shares some borders with the 7th but is more suburban. Businesswoman Marie Newman is challenging Rep. Daniel Lipinski — who originally won the seat thanks to the influence of his father, Rep. William Lipinski — and has outraised him among individual donors. She also has received some money from prominent political action committees, including Planned Parenthood and Kirsten Gillibrand’s Off the Sidelines leadership PAC, which is rare for a challenger.

Lipinski is seen as one of the most moderate Democrats in the House, and Newman’s campaign is positioning her to his left. Although the amount of money raised this cycle puts Newman just slightly behind Lipinski ($530,894 to his $695,149), he has $1.6 million cash on hand compared to her $236,612, which demonstrates how difficult it can be for challengers to compete with incumbents. In the heavily Democratic district, the March 20 primary is essentially a general election, but the winning candidate is likely to face Art Jones, a Holocaust denier and the only candidate seeking the Republican nomination.

Illinois and Texas have the first primary elections, so candidates in all other states still have over three months in which to fundraise. North Carolina’s primary elections are in early May, and unlike in Illinois, the incumbents fighting off challengers from their own party are Republicans. Walter Jones Jr., who represents the coastal 3rd District, is being outraised by Scott Dacey, a local county commissioner. Jones voted against the Republican tax bill, arguing that it would increase the deficit, and Dacey is positioning himself as more in line with President Trump’s agenda. Although no candidate is raising record sums, Dacey is outraising Jones $264,000 to $200,000. It is extremely rare for a challenger to outraise an incumbent — only 15 incumbents are being outraised by challengers so far, and only three of those are challengers from the same party. Dacey, a federal lobbyist, may have connections other challengers usually don’t.

In a much more expensive race in North Carolina’s 9th District, Republican incumbent Robert Pittenger is facing well-financed challengers in both the primary and the general. Pittenger is seen as vulnerable in the general election and has raised $780,000 compared to his Democratic challenger Dan McCready’s $1.2 million. First, he needs to fend off his primary challenger — pastor and activist Mark Harris — who has raised more than twice as much money from individual donors as Pittenger. Harris also has nearly as much cash on hand as does Pittenger ($221,911 compared to Pittenger’s $286,607). Harris was narrowly defeated by Pittenger in 2016, so this race looks like a tight one for Pittenger both in May and November, if it makes it that far.  

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Categories: Further Reading

Big money spurs on an intense Arizona midterm race

Open Secrets - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 07:56

(Photo by Chip SomodevillaGetty Images)

Big money is rolling into Arizona as a dramatic cast of candidates duke it out for Senator Jeff Flake’s seat in the upcoming midterms.

Nearly $310,000 has been spent by super political action committees (PACs) in the elections, much of it coming from big money interests like GOP mega-donor Robert Mercer.

Now, more money may soon enter one of the most contentious races in 2018, and that could mark a massive shift in close-polling races like Arizona’s Republican primaries.

National interest in the race sparked in October when the Arizona Republican announced in a passionate speech on the floor of the Senate that he would not seek re-election.

“I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles,” Flake said in the  speech.

“To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.”

Attention only increased as more political figureheads entered a race the New York Times recently dubbed a “microcosm of the country’s politics.

CandidateRaisedSpentCash on Hand Kyrsten Sinema (D)$3,891,163$1,005,762$5,149,035 Martha McSally (R)$3,769,794$2,296,551$1,816,668 Kelli Ward (R)$1,438,804$1,140,730$350,002 Deedra Abboud (D)$28,922$27,075$1,848 Bob Bishop (D)$20,879$19,728$0 Christian Diegel (R)$14,546$5,761$8,784 Chris Russell (D)$7,903$11,980-$4,077 Jim Moss (D)$6,836$16,462-$9,377 Nicholas Tutora (R)$4,520$2,264$4,239

House Republican Martha McSally, the first female U.S. fighter pilot, holds a slight lead in polls. She’s being challenged by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who made headlines when he was pardoned by President Donald Trump in August after being convicted of criminal contempt of court. State senator Kelli Ward, who was endorsed by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, has also made a bid in the Republican primary.

On the Democratic side, House Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, the first openly bisexual woman to be elected to Congress, is campaigning as a moderate and leads the ticket. She’s being trailed by a number of low-polling Democrats.

But of the $357,230 of outside spending that has made its way into the Arizona Senate race, $285,725 of the money has come from a single group: KelliPAC, a super PAC organized to elect Kelli Ward.

FEC records show the super PAC has been bankrolled by three big budget Republican donors, primarily megadonor Robert Mercer, who donated $300,000.

KelliPAC has also received two $10,000 contributions from Dallas philanthropist Elloine Clark and Cato Institute board member Jeff Yass.

Ward leads in outside spending support with $308,984 followed by Sinema with $28,550 and McSally with $696. $19,000 has been spent against Ward as well, FEC records show.

Despite that, Sinema and McSally lead the money-race by a significant margin. Sinema has raised the most with $3.9 million, according to her end-of-year filings. McSally follows closely with $3.8 million. Ward trails with $1.4 million. There is no FEC data available for Arpaio’s campaign for fundraising or outside spending on his behalf.

Despite Ward’s gap, super PAC spending can change the tenor of tight primary elections like Arizona’s, said Tara Malloy, senior director of appellate litigation and strategy at Campaign Legal Center.

Candidates with less direct funding can be “kept alive by their billionaire backer,” Malloy said.

“A candidate whose spending is on life support can be somewhat resuscitated by outside spending,” she said.

Instead of support and funds coalescing around one front-runner, Malloy said, primaries can start to get messy with a larger crowd of primary contenders who would have normally been pushed out of the competition.

Malloy cited the 17 candidates in the 2016 Republican presidential primary as just one example.

“Their campaign would have been dead if it was just popular support,” she said. “Now they get to fight on.”

In February, big money continued to enter the race, when the super PAC “DefendArizona” registered with the FEC to a UPS address in Glendale, Arizona. The PAC’s treasurer, Benjamin Ottenhoff, is a political consultant and former CFO of the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee, according to his bio.

Ottenhoff is listed as treasurer of 40 different super PACs, joint fundraising committees, leadership PACs and campaigns that have funneled millions into predominantly Republican coffers this cycle.

Of the 40 groups registered to Ottenhoff, 27 have either raised or spent money in the 2018 election cycle, CRP records show. Those 27 groups have raised more than $2.56 million and spent more than $2.3 million this cycle.

Ottenhoff did not respond to interview requests from OpenSecrets.

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Categories: Further Reading

Lobbying on immigration, border ticks up despite “shadow lobbying”

Open Secrets - Thu, 02/08/2018 - 09:04

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The last time comprehensive immigration reform was on the table in 2013, lobbying on immigration and border issues shot up faster than the fences that now speckle the U.S.-Mexico border.

Lobbyists who reported advocating on “border security” jumped from 146 in 2012 to 1,213 in 2013, according to disclosure reports. On general immigration issues, lobbyists nearly doubled from 875 to 1,618.

As negotiations on President Donald Trump’s long-touted campaign promise of building a border wall clash with the demand for protections of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, lobbying on those issues is once again on an uptick, Center for Responsive Politics data shows.

Lobbyists who advocated on general immigration issues in 2017 reached 1,438 — the highest the number has been since 2013.

Border issue lobbyists are ticking up from previous years and many are beginning to lobby on new issues as well. In 2017, 77 lobbyists filed that they were lobbying on issues related to a “border wall.”

According to Meredith McGehee, a lobbyist and strategic advisor for Campaign Legal Center, those numbers are only the “tip of the iceberg” for the under-the-table advocacy that may be happening in Washington, especially on issues like immigration and the border.

“On an issue like immigration or (other) controversial issues, it’s actually politically smart to not get too high of a profile,” McGehee said. “So you want to make sure you don’t show up on the lobbying disclosure reports because either it’s an unpopular one or you figure there might be blowback.”

A 2017 report by the Center for Responsive Politics indicated that “over the last decade … hordes of lobbyists (were) deliberately moving into the shadows to avoid the consequences of registration.”

Since 2008, the number of registered lobbyists had slowly declined, though many of the people who stopped registering appeared to hold the same or similar positions with the same employers, according to the report. That decline was driven by a myriad of factors, including 2007 legislation that added more regulation to federal lobbyists, but the move was largely led by President Obama’s rule to not allow registered lobbyists in his administration.

For every one registered lobbyist, the report showed, there was at least one lobbyist who was maneuvering politics behind the scenes simply by not registering.

“If you don’t want to show up, you just don’t register,” McGehee said. “You can go to these meetings on the Hill and you’re registered. You look over and see people and they’re not registered, even though they’ve been in all the meetings you have.”

Since Trump — who has similar lobbying restrictions but may not be enforcing them — has taken office, records show that registered lobbying is once again on an uptick, but numbers of federally registered lobbyists are still diminished from what they once were.

But for some, McGehee said, it’s about keeping a low profile — especially in issues like immigration and the border where controversy is naturally built into the discussion.

And that tactic is not resigned to one party, said Carlos Paz, communications director for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“The organizations that care deeply about immigration are clued in deeply to everything that’s happening — and that’s on both sides,” Paz said. “You have immigration advocates who are working very closely with elected representatives and the Democrats, then you have organizations on the more conservative side — NumbersUSA and FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) — that are working very closely with their members.”

Keeping that low profile on those issues — which Paz referred to as a “messaging battle” — is fairly easy because the system is based largely on self reporting. Lobbyists are required to register if they spend more than 20 percent of their time doing so, but past instances suggest that not all who do adhere to the requirement.

“Although we do find some differences by partisanship,” according to CRP’s 2017 report, “the bigger picture is that despite denunciations of lobbyists by senior politicians in both parties, more and more lobbying goes on beyond public scrutiny, making it harder to hold those in power to account.”

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Categories: Further Reading

8 years later: How Citizens United changed campaign finance

Open Secrets - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 10:50

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Eight years ago, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC defined the modern federal campaign finance system. How did we get there, and how has the system continued to evolve?

Since the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971, congressional action and court rulings have interacted to shape the rules of the road. Early legislative efforts in 1971 and 1974 were tempered by the Supreme Court in its 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo. The soft money era that grew partially from 1979 amendments to FECA was structured by federal court rulings requiring disclosure and consistent definitions for “nonfederal” and “joint” activities by parties.

When Congress further regulated party fundraising and spending with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002, the Supreme Court weighed in again, first allowing many of the new rules with its McConnell v. FEC decision. In a series of subsequent decisions, however, most prominently Citizens United, courts have eased those restrictions and opened the process to many more potential spenders and donors acting with few, if any, limits.

So what has been the effect of these changes on fundraising and spending in federal campaigns?

At the highest levels, the changes appear quite modest. Following a surge in spending in congressional elections in 2010 (perhaps reflecting the Republican “wave” in that cycle), there has been no growth at all in the overall amount spent in congressional races when adjusted for inflation. Presidential campaigns are inherently idiosyncratic, but real spending in those also has declined since reaching its peak in 2008.


Direct spending by Senate candidates has declined each cycle since 2012, from $748 million in 2012 to $625 million in 2016. (There are, of course, only 33 or 34 Senate races each cycle, and the distribution of states by size and cost also vary from one cycle to another, so comparisons can be misleading).


Spending by House candidates also has declined from a peak of $1.1 billion in 2012 to $970 million in 2016. While these races also are subject to changes based on competitiveness — wave elections in 2006 and 2010 and challenges to new party majorities in 2008 and 2012, for instance — there is no denying the flattening of the growth curve after Citizens United.

Party spending

Parties are more complicated because of the impact of presidential campaigns on fundraising, but overall a similar pattern appears. Spending by Republican Party organizations has been little changed since 2004. And while there was an increase for Democrats in 2016, growth in spending has been modest for them as well, with no obvious acceleration after 2010.

The other traditional participants in financing federal campaigns are political action committees (PACs). These voluntary organizations have been a significant source of direct contributions, especially to congressional campaigns, for nearly 40 years.

But court decisions, most famously Citizens United, created new types of PACs that are allowed to spend unlimited amounts from unrestricted sources so long as the spending is independent of candidates or parties. That doesn’t tell the full story of the increased importance of “outside spending” since the courts opened the system in 2010, however.

There are other groups now free to spend unrestricted funds advocating the election or defeat of candidates. These groups contend that they are not required to register with the FEC as any sort of PAC because their primary purpose is something other than electoral politics. This spending itself isn’t new. But the use of funds from a virtually unrestricted range of sources, including corporations, began with the most recent court rulings.

In 2016, more than one out of every five dollars spent in connection with presidential and congressional campaigns was spent by committees and groups with access to unlimited and unrestricted sources of funds.

The following chart shows the growing influence of outside spending relative to overall federal campaign spending (outlined in the first chart).

This shift in spending has been fostered by an equally important shift in sources for all of this money. A system founded on the principle of individuals giving limited, disclosed contributions directly to candidates, parties and PACs has morphed into a system that allows individuals and organizations to give hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars, to groups to spend in elections, some of whom are closely aligned with candidates and parties, without disclosure.

During the 2016 election cycle, the top 20 individual donors (whose contributions were disclosed) gave more than $500 million combined to political organizations. The 20 largest organizational donors also gave a total of more than $500 million, and more than $1 billion came from the top 40 donors.

At a time when Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were confirming that large numbers of people donating small amounts could fund successful campaigns, the extraordinary role being played by the very few donors who give the most may be the most important element in this new era.

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Categories: Further Reading

Which House candidate scored the most in small donations for 2017?

Open Secrets - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 08:15

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Critics of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) lambasted him over the weekend for a now-deleted tweet in which he cited a school secretary’s $1.50 weekly take-home pay increase as a success story of the GOP tax overhaul.

The tweet played right into the hands of Randy Bryce, Ryan’s long-shot Democratic challenger, who characterized the speaker as “out of touch” in his own tweet. Bryce called on supporters to “Chip in $1.50” to help “repeal and replace Ryan permanently this November.”

Moments ago, @PRyan deleted this tweet after we told him just how out of touch he was. Show Paul Ryan what you think of his tax bill. Chip in $1.50 now to help us repeal and replace Ryan permanently this November.https://t.co/c3Fii4Q0Jn

— Randy Bryce (@IronStache) February 3, 2018

The Hill reported Monday that Bryce’s campaign said it had raised more than $150,000 in the two days following Ryan’s ill-fated tweet, with an average contribution of $12.39.

Bryce, a union ironworker, has already proven an aptitude for collecting small campaign contributions. According to records filed with the FEC, Bryce received more money in donations of $200 or less in 2017 than any other House candidate who filed before the Dec. 31 deadline and did not run in a special election.

The Wisconsin Democrat raised about $1.9 million in small contributions last year. Republican Karen Handel, who won a Georgia congressional seat in an April special election, led all House members in money from such donations — amassing about $2.7 million in 2017.

Seven of the ten House candidates who received the most in small donations in 2017 were Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was fourth with $891,258.

Ryan collected $563,412 — good for seventh. The list consists of eight incumbents and just two challengers.

Most raised from small donations in 2017 (House candidates) CandidateRacePartySmall DonorsNet Receipts Randy BryceWI01D$1,893,378$2,650,989 Keith EllisonMN05D$1,045,081$1,924,272 John LewisGA05D$1,026,213$1,756,308 Nancy PelosiCA12D$891,258$2,223,489 Brian MastFL18R$747,038$2,022,275 Mia LoveUT04R$626,515$1,475,551 Paul RyanWI01R$563,412$10,033,330 Amy McGrathKY06D$540,921$1,128,372 Brad SchneiderIL10D$539,637$2,216,560 Adam SchiffCA28D$446,514$2,412,650 Joe Kennedy IIIMA04D$419,328$2,083,710 Lee ZeldinNY01R$376,869$1,958,699 Tulsi GabbardHI02D$363,717$767,863 Mo BrooksAL05R$351,269$1,044,599 Scott W TaylorVA02R$330,588$1,388,707 Mike LevinCA49D$279,232$1,221,528 Pete AguilarCA31D$273,218$1,383,073 Cheri BustosIL17D$246,831$1,808,220 Mikie SherrillNJ11D$245,240$1,212,939 Anthony BrindisiNY22D$241,821$760,890

Bryce also tops a list of House candidates with the largest percentage of individual contributions that came from small donations last year. Of the nearly $2.6 million Bryce collected from individuals, 74 percent came in increments of $200 or less. (Only candidates who had at least $500,000 in net receipts and did not run in a special election last year were included).

The remainder of the top 10, which consists of seven Democrats and three Republicans, is similar to the list of candidates who raised the most in small donations  — with John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) following Bryce at 63.4 and 63.2 percent, respectively.

Near the bottom was House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.): Just 0.3 percent of his total individual contributions came in the form of small donations. Such donations account for a much larger share of other House leaders’ contributions from individuals — 57.3 percent for Pelosi and 50.6 percent for Ryan. Small or otherwise, contributions from individuals made up just 0.07 percent of McCarthy’s net receipts in 2017.

Net receipts include contributions from individuals and PACs, self-funding and other sources, such as loans and transfers from other committees.

In 2017, 71.4 percent of Bryce’s net receipts came from small donors, good for the top spot on a list of House candidates who filed before the deadline and did not run in a special election.

Lewis and Ellison again round out the top three at 58.4 percent and 54.3 percent, respectively.

Small donations accounted for 40.1 percent of Pelosi’s 2017 net receipts compared to 5.6 percent of Ryan’s and 0.02 percent of McCarthy’s.

The top five are all Democrats, and Bryce and Amy McGrath (D-Ky.) are the only non-incumbents to crack the top 10.

Percent raised from small donations (House candidates) CandidateRacePartySmall DonorsIndividual Donors% of Individual DonorsNet Receipts% of Receipts Randy BryceWI01D$1,893,378$2,557,45074.0%$2,650,98971.4% Keith EllisonMN05D$1,045,081$1,654,67263.2%$1,924,27254.3% John LewisGA05D$1,026,213$1,618,58463.4%$1,756,30858.4% Nancy PelosiCA12D$891,258$1,554,43257.3%$2,223,48940.1% Brian MastFL18R$747,038$1,347,95855.4%$2,022,27536.9% Mia LoveUT04R$626,515$1,058,23359.2%$1,475,55142.5% Paul RyanWI01R$563,412$1,113,61750.6%$10,033,3305.6% Amy McGrathKY06D$540,921$1,051,06951.5%$1,128,37247.9% Brad SchneiderIL10D$539,637$1,734,05231.1%$2,216,56024.3% Adam SchiffCA28D$446,514$1,973,70722.6%$2,412,65018.5% Joe Kennedy IIIMA04D$419,328$1,503,99127.9%$2,083,71020.1% Lee ZeldinNY01R$376,869$1,297,07629.1%$1,958,69919.2% Tulsi GabbardHI02D$363,717$755,27048.2%$767,86347.4% Mo BrooksAL05R$351,269$954,27336.8%$1,044,59933.6% Scott W TaylorVA02R$330,588$1,017,61232.5%$1,388,70723.8% Mike LevinCA49D$279,232$1,217,02022.9%$1,221,52822.9% Pete AguilarCA31D$273,218$960,15028.5%$1,383,07319.8% Cheri BustosIL17D$246,831$1,011,95024.4%$1,808,22013.7% Mikie SherrillNJ11D$245,240$1,110,27022.1%$1,212,93920.2% Anthony BrindisiNY22D$241,821$553,15543.7%$760,89031.8%

Overall, 823 Democratic and 492 Republican House candidates filed FEC year-end reports by Dec. 31. Democrats received roughly $32.2 million in individual contributions of $200 or less, or an average of $39,171 per candidate. Republicans received roughly $13.6 million in small contributions, or a per-candidate average of $27,628.

The post Which House candidate scored the most in small donations for 2017? appeared first on OpenSecrets Blog.

Categories: Further Reading

Outside groups to spend millions on tax messaging in 2018

Open Secrets - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 10:28

via youtube

With midterm elections on the horizon and congressional majorities up for grabs, outside groups have jumped at the opportunity to control messaging on tax reform — the one piece of major legislation passed by Congress in 2017.

Corry Bliss, executive director of conservative group American Action Network (AAN), said selling the landmark legislation to voters should be Republicans’ top priority in the coming months.

“Every member of the Republican Party should be spending all of their time selling the tax plan,” Bliss told The Washington Post. “Everything else is a waste of time and money.”

Conservative groups have done their best to corner the market on tax messaging based on pure volume and size of expenditures, but liberal groups too have asserted themselves since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s enactment in late December.

On Jan. 2, the liberal coalition Tax March released TV ads in 23 Republican-held congressional districts — 14 of which Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 — admonishing representatives for their support of a bill they claim “raises taxes on 36 million middle class families.” Tax March has promised to double its spending from last year to $10 million on the issue in 2018 as a part of its Not One Penny campaign.

Not to be outdone, AAN launched its own ads the next day in 23 districts, thanking Republican representatives who voted for the bill, which ads published on their YouTube page claim “will save a typical family more than $2,000.” AAN, which pumped millions of dollars into the bill’s passage, plans to spend another $10 million defending it.

Republican megadonors Charles and David Koch are promising the financial support of their powerful political machine. Four Koch-funded groups — Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity, The Libre Initiative, and General Opportunity — have already announced their intentions.

According to a release on the Freedom Partners website, the four groups “will be participating in a full scale nationwide education campaign” to “demonstrate the tremendous benefits of pro-growth tax reform and show how this plan is directly helping Americans improve their lives.”

The Kochs have promised to spend up to $400 million on the looming midterm election, CNBC reported recently. That’s roughly 60 percent more than they said they dedicated to the 2016 cycle when they focused on down-ballot races instead of throwing their support behind Donald Trump.

The brothers, whose organizations spent $20 million in support of the tax bill’s passage last year, announced at a recent donor summit that they will allocate another $20 million to promote its perceived benefits to an electorate that remains skeptical.

According to the results of a Pew Research survey released last week, just 37 percent of Americans approve of the tax bill compared to 46 percent who disapprove. It also found that 29 percent of adults believe the overhaul will have “mostly positive” effects on themselves and their families in the coming years compared to 27 percent who anticipate “mostly negative” effects.

In a number of critical districts, it’s not just middle class voters who are concerned with the implications of the overhaul. Wealthier households in more affluent districts will be hit with the downsizing of key tax breaks such as the mortgage interest and state and local tax deductions (SALT).

Graeme Boushey, political science professor at the University of California Irvine in the state’s 45th District, said this poses an interesting dilemma for some Republicans.

“For many Republican voters, this has been an objective — something they’ve desired for a very long time,” Boushey said. “But it’s intermingled with the concern that they will be personally injured by the bill.”

Republican congresswoman Mimi Waters, who represents the 45th District, voted in favor of the bill. Boushey said that, in defending Waters’s vote, GOP tax messaging in the district will have to appeal to voters’ belief that the overhaul will benefit the country at large.

According to the Pew survey, 35 percent of adults expect the overhaul to have “mostly positive” effects on the country at large compared to 40 percent who anticipate “mostly negative” effects.

Landmark legislation is oftentimes mired by unfavorable public perceptions. The Affordable Care Act, which passed in 2010, was largely unpopular during President Obama’s tenure. It has enjoyed its highest levels of support only since Obama left office, in the wake of Republican attempts to repeal it.

Boushey said there are striking political parallels between the passage of the Affordable Care Act  — commonly known as Obamacare — and the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. He cited the pressure placed on both parties to enact landmark legislation on ideological principles when in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.

“This is very similar to the Democrats’ ACA vote,” Boushey said. “Once in 40 years, you get a chance with unified government to enact a sacred cow for the party — pass tax reform here. I think for some of these representatives, there’s a consequences-be-damned attitude to it, even if they know it’s going to cost them in their election.”

Republicans drastically outspent Democrats on healthcare messaging after the passage of Obamacare — using it as a valuable piece of political propaganda even in 2016 when many congressional leaders were elected on promises of repeal and replace. Sensing the potential for a Democratic wave election this year that could threaten congressional majorities, Republicans cannot afford to let the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act follow the same trajectory.

With millions being poured into TV ads, some groups are resorting to more out-of-the-box methods of messaging. The Job Creators Network is embarking on a nationwide bus tour to sing the praises of the bill, and Democratic leaders are hosting teach-ins to convey its pitfalls to constituents.

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Categories: Further Reading

GOP coffers strong despite sluggish approval

Open Secrets - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 03:57

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A low approval rating hasn’t hurt the Republican Party’s ability to raise money.

Year-end campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) show six of the 10 organizations with the most cash to begin the year are affiliated with the party.

Those GOP-aligned fundraising groups, which included two super PACs and President Trump’s 2020 reelection committee, had a combined $134.4 million in their coffers as of Dec. 31.

The four Democratic organizations on the list reported a combined $83.1 million cash on hand, or about 38 percent less than the Republican total.

Committees, PACs with most cash on hand Committee/PACAffiliated WithIn Support ofTypeCash on hand NRCCRepublicansHouseParty$43,644,640 DCCCDemocratsHouseParty$38,900,497 Republican National CommitteeRepublicansPartyParty$38,818,629 Donald J. Trump For PresidentRepublicansPresidentCandidate$22,109,158 SEIU COPEDemocratsPartyPAC$19,075,451 Congressional Leadership FundRepublicansHouseSuper PAC$15,216,977 Senate Majority PACDemocratsSenateSuper PAC$13,710,854 House Majority PACDemocratsHouseSuper PAC$11,460,992 Trump VictoryRepublicansPresident/PartyJFC$8,389,649 Senate Leadership FundRepublicansSenateSuper PAC$6,308,856 *Data is based on 2017 year-end reports filed on or before Jan. 31, 2018.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which is the primary fundraising vehicle for House Republican campaigns, topped the list with $43.6 million.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), its counterpart on the other side of the aisle, trailed with $38.9 million cash on hand.

The Republican National Committee ($38.8 million) and Trump’s campaign ($22.1 million) ranked third and fourth, respectively.

The DSCC and NRSC — the organizations primarily responsible for winning Senate seats — did not have year-end reports publicly available through the FEC as of publishing.

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Categories: Further Reading

O’Rourke’s no-PAC campaign paying off against Cruz

Open Secrets - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 13:43

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After voting against the 2014 Farm Bill, El Paso Democrat Beto O’Rourke was asked to apologize.

Not to the voters, but to a political action committee (PAC) that donated to his campaign.

“At that moment, I just said ‘You know what, I don’t want to take PAC money anymore,” O’Rourke said. “This is crazy.”

Now, as Rep. O’Rourke campaigns to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) in the upcoming midterm election, his pledge to not “take a dime from PACs or special interest groups” may have paid off.

Center for Responsive Politics requested quarter four fundraising information from both campaigns ahead of Federal Election Commission’s deadline. Information provided shows that O’Rourke outraised Cruz and did so largely through smaller, individual contributions.

O’Rourke boasted $2.4 million in fourth quarter contributions compared to Cruz’s $1.9 million, according to the campaigns.

Cruz is still ahead, however, according to a recent Democratic poll, leading O’Rourke 45-37. He also may still hold the financial advantage – Cruz’s campaign noted that they toted more cash on hand with $7.3 million, compared to O’Rourke’s $4.6 million.

But the Democratic challenger may have a different numbers advantage. O’Rourke’s funds came from 55,567 individual contributions, according to the campaign. The average donation was $25 online and $40 in overall donations.

Catherine Frazier, a spokesperson for Cruz’s campaign, declined to provide the same details when asked.

“We’ll let the public report speak for itself,” Frazier said. The 2017 end of year report filings are due to the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 31, 2018.

O’Rourke launched his bid for Senate on the promise that he would not accept money from PACs. He said he hasn’t regretted the decision.

“We’re far stronger than we would be otherwise,” O’Rourke said. “It is giving more people a reason to contribute and become part of this. They know that their five, 10 or 15 dollars is really going to make a difference. There is no PAC, there are no billionaires. This is really people.”

Since 2011, when Cruz began campaigning for the seat he now holds, his campaign has raised $119,383,925, according to September Federal Election Commission data. In the 2012 election cycle, Cruz outraised his opponent, Paul Sadler, more than tenfold.

Previously, Cruz has been bankrolled by conservative big money groups like Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund. The senator has also received significant campaign contributions from interests like Exxon Mobile, Goldman Sachs as well as a set of banks and international law firms.

“Texans have displayed their confidence in Sen. Cruz’s proven record and he will continue working every day in the Senate to advance the values they have entrusted him to defend and the policies he has promised to champion,” Cruz’s spokeswoman, Frazier said.

And that money may play into the upcoming struggle for the Senate seat, which a Democrat last held in 1993.

According to a recent report by Public Policy Polling, more than half of 757 Texas voters polled said that special interest money is a “major problem” in Texas elections.

The January poll found that 53 percent of voters viewed the money as a major problem and another 23 percent viewed it as a minor problem. The poll also showed that 63 percent said that they would be more likely to support a candidate who doesn’t take money from special interests.

The poll also showed that O’Rourke trailed Cruz 45-37, but after the poll noted that O’Rourke was not accepting PAC contributions, favorability shifted slightly to O’Rourke 43-41.

O’Rourke’s anti-PAC sentiment is fairly new, Center for Responsive Politics data shows.

When O’Rourke was s running for a House seat in 2014, he did accept $178,000 in PAC donations. O’Rourke’s top campaign contributors that year were Hunt Companies, Strategic Growth Bank and oil interest Western Refining.

“When I won the [2014 primary] election, PAC checks just poured in unsolicited,” O’Rourke said. “The unwritten and unacknowledged part of that is that the interests who send those PAC checks want to have access to those members of Congress.”

The post O’Rourke’s no-PAC campaign paying off against Cruz appeared first on OpenSecrets Blog.

Categories: Further Reading

Campaign funding from Health Insurance and Pharma blocks hopes for Single-Payer enthusiasts

Open Secrets - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 13:12

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont hosted a town hall recently to discuss the Medicare for All Act, during which he emphasized a conflict of interest around involving the private sector in healthcare.

“Right now, we have a healthcare system that is not designed to provide quality care to all people in a cost effective way,” Sanders said at the town hall. “Let us be frank, we have a healthcare system designed to make enormous profits for insurance companies and drug companies. And disease prevention is not very high on their lists.”

Sanders isn’t alone in his sentiment. A number of polls last year (see here, here, and here) indicate that a growing plurality of Americans support switching to a single-payer healthcare system, including a substantial majority of Democrats.

A single-payer system would change the current healthcare system by using taxes to expand Medicare coverage to all Americans, allowing anyone to access free care whenever they need it.

However, Congress may be slow to respond to the growing interest in the healthcare model found in Canada and across much of Western Europe. The influence-wielding of insurance and pharmaceutical companies appears to be a barrier preventing Congress from embracing single-payer.

A Center for Responsive Politics analysis found a correlation between congressional Democrats’ support for single-payer proposals and contributions received from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

One-third of Senate Democrats have cosponsored the Medicare for All Act, which Sanders introduced in September. Democrats who haven’t cosponsored the bill received 146 percent more money on average from health insurance companies between 2011 and 2016 than those who have ($147,186 to $59,789) and 60 percent more from pharma ($252,369 to $157,768).

Total Contributions to Senate Democrats (Health Insurance and Pharmaceuticals) RecipientStateHealth Insurance and HMOsPharmaceutical and Health ProductsCosponsor S.1804 Dianne FeinsteinCalifornia$26,100$216,350No Patty MurrayWashington$225,701$671,169No Ron WydenOregon$371,794$560,972No Dick DurbinIllinois$142,919$95,719No Jack ReedRhode Island$73,500$54,700No Chuck SchumerNew York$481,665$605,011No Bill NelsonFlorida$184,388$110,350No Tom CarperDelaware$162,750$386,310No Debbie StabenowMichigan$205,450$188,550No Maria CantwellWashington$15,760$59,750No Bob MenendezNew Jersey$114,818$420,638No Ben CardinMaryland$124,600$126,580No Sherrod BrownOhio$114,770$183,393No Bob CaseyPennsylvania$222,050$590,779No Claire McCaskillMissouri$126,818$125,298No Amy KlobucharMinnesota$81,925$269,924No Jon TesterMontana$162,560$200,600No Mark WarnerVirginia$418,000$235,000No Michael BennetColorado$244,100$672,817No Joe ManchinWest Virginia$146,250$203,050No Chris CoonsDelaware$107,250$404,800No Joe DonnellyIndiana$114,000$386,715No Chris MurphyConnecticut$81,854$125,856No Tim KaineVirginia$141,100$183,950No Heidi HeitkampNorth Dakota$138,900$97,525No Gary PetersMichigan$48,874$131,850No Chris Van HollenMaryland$51,180$129,750No Tammy DuckworthIllinois$43,320$63,742No Maggie HassanNew Hampshire$20,861$35,981No Catherine Cortez MastoNevada$22,333$33,930No Senate Non-cosponsor Avg$147,186$252,369No Patrick LeahyVermont$26,250$127,776Yes Sheldon WhitehouseRhode Island$29,504$220,363Yes Tom UdallNew Mexico$51,257$59,316Yes Jeanne ShaheenNew Hampshire$96,563$105,204Yes Jeff MerkleyOregon$69,087$47,658Yes Kirsten GillibrandNew York$197,898$287,668Yes Al Franken*Minnesota$59,543$150,461Yes Richard BlumenthalConnecticut$64,015$209,025Yes Brian SchatzHawaii$80,401$43,751Yes Tammy BaldwinWisconsin$53,513$119,378Yes Mazie HironoHawaii$25,850$48,750Yes Martin HeinrichNew Mexico$98,010$225,000Yes Elizabeth WarrenMassachusetts$35,352$165,313Yes Ed MarkeyMassachusetts$32,007$354,150Yes Cory BookerNew Jersey$41,688$448,178Yes Kamala HarrisCalifornia$54,926$68,823Yes Bernie SandersVermont$545$1,250Yes Senate Cosponsor Avg$59,789$157,768Yes Total amount shown includes donations to leadership PACs and campaign committees. Totals cover 2011-2016.


In the House, the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act received a larger proportion of Democratic support, with almost two-thirds cosponsoring the bill. House Democrats who haven’t cosponsored the bill received 137 percent more money on average from health insurance companies during the 2016 cycle than those who have ($27,529 to $11,618) and 77 percent more from pharma ($44,190 to $25,022).

Total Contributions to House Democrats (Health Insurance and Pharmaceuticals) RecipientDistrictHealth Insurance and HMOSPharmaceuticals and Health ProductsCosponsor H.R.676 Steny H HoyerMaryland District 05$179,750 $235,000 No Frank Pallone Jr.New Jersey District 06$133,250 $388,976 No Ami BeraCalifornia District 07$112,867 $108,900 No Kyrsten SinemaArizona District 09$100,968 $95,991 No Ron KindWisconsin District 03$97,500 $201,085 No John B LarsonConnecticut District 01$85,000 $65,500 No Kurt SchraderOregon District 05$83,250 $140,928 No Ben R LujanNew Mexico District 03$83,000 $132,600 No Tony CardenasCalifornia District 29$72,750 $152,702 No Richard E NealMassachusetts District 01$62,000 $122,200 No Sander LevinMichigan District 09$59,500 $22,000 No Cheri BustosIllinois District 17$50,500 $36,200 No Scott PetersCalifornia District 52$48,874 $185,350 No Terri A SewellAlabama District 07$42,500 $38,000 No Nancy PelosiCalifornia District 12$42,495 $57,420 No Debbie Wasserman SchultzFlorida District 23$40,100 $37,325 No Jim HimesConnecticut District 04$38,000 $48,900 No Pete AguilarCalifornia District 31$37,950 $34,900 No Sean Patrick MaloneyNew York District 18$35,000 $31,780 No Julia BrownleyCalifornia District 26$34,345 $23,460 No Ann Mclane KusterNew Hampshire District 02$32,700 $41,938 No Joe CourtneyConnecticut District 02$32,000 $39,900 No David ScottGeorgia District 13$32,000 $5,000 No Juan VargasCalifornia District 51$31,500 $19,750 No Derek KilmerWashington District 06$30,750 $48,950 No Suzan DelBeneWashington District 01$30,000 $46,486 No Dennis HeckWashington District 10$29,500 $18,600 No Kathleen RiceNew York District 04$28,000 $24,600 No Joaquin CastroTexas District 20$28,000 $16,937 No House Non-cosponsor Avg$27,529 $44,190 No Joe Kennedy IIIMassachusetts District 04$27,285 $184,944 No Don NorcrossNew Jersey District 01$25,600 $39,900 No Raul RuizCalifornia District 36$22,785 $69,362 No Cedric RichmondLouisiana District 02$22,000 $31,000 No Dan KildeeMichigan District 05$21,800 $3,500 No Susan A DavisCalifornia District 53$21,000 $9,700 No Jim CostaCalifornia District 16$20,850 $6,000 No Tim WalzMinnesota District 01$20,500 $9,775 No Elizabeth EstyConnecticut District 05$19,250 $29,496 No Henry CuellarTexas District 28$19,000 $1,000 No Bill Pascrell Jr.New Jersey District 09$16,400 $57,900 No Seth MoultonMassachusetts District 06$14,750 $70,600 No Raja KrishnamoorthiIllinois District 08$14,406 $6,700 No Lois J FrankelFlorida District 21$13,255 $25,313 No Rick LarsenWashington District 02$12,250 $16,000 No Lisa Blunt RochesterDelaware District 01$12,000 $5,700 No Michelle Lujan GrishamNew Mexico District 01$11,500 $39,450 No Norma TorresCalifornia District 35$10,000 $22,500 No John K DelaneyMaryland District 06$10,000 $21,500 No Gerry ConnollyVirginia District 11$9,000 $26,500 No Betty McCollumMinnesota District 04$8,650 $4,750 No Brad SchneiderIllinois District 10$8,052 $30,535 No Mike QuigleyIllinois District 05$7,500 $9,000 No Bill FosterIllinois District 11$7,250 $32,450 No Val DemingsFlorida District 10$7,100 $6,853 No Colleen HanabusaHawaii District 01$7,000 $0No Lloyd DoggettTexas District 35$5,500 $11,050 No Collin PetersonMinnesota District 07$5,500 $1,000 No Daniel LipinskiIllinois District 03$5,000 $3,000 No Bill KeatingMassachusetts District 09$3,500 $39,500 No Stacey PlaskettVirgin Islands District 00$3,500 $11,500 No Dutch RuppersbergerMaryland District 02$3,500 $9,100 No Charlie CristFlorida District 13$3,000 $10,350 No Rosa L DeLauroConnecticut District 03$2,500 $18,900 No Stephen F LynchMassachusetts District 08$2,500 $13,000 No Tom SuozziNew York District 03$2,250 $25,850 No Tom O'HalleranArizona District 01$1,535 $2,360 No Josh GottheimerNew Jersey District 05$1,505 $22,565 No Stephanie MurphyFlorida District 07$1,050 $140No Carol Shea-PorterNew Hampshire District 01$938$11,384 No John Conyers Jr.Michigan District 13$710$13,500 No Ruben KihuenNevada District 04$574$8,378 No Salud CarbajalCalifornia District 24$500$4,000 No Jacky RosenNevada District 03$500$1,500 No Niki TsongasMassachusetts District 03$0$56,400 No Eddie Bernice JohnsonTexas District 30$0$1,500 No Beto O'RourkeTexas District 16$0$0No Donald McEachinVirginia District 04$0$0No Madeleine Z BordalloGuam District 00$0$0No Joseph CrowleyNew York District 14$89,500 $159,200 Yes Mike ThompsonCalifornia District 05$80,850 $77,050 Yes Linda SanchezCalifornia District 38$64,050 $140,450 Yes Earl BlumenauerOregon District 03$63,400 $12,500 Yes Doris O MatsuiCalifornia District 06$53,500 $92,000 Yes Gene GreenTexas District 29$48,750 $143,575 Yes James E ClyburnSouth Carolina District 06$39,750 $177,962 Yes Gwen MooreWisconsin District 04$37,000 $21,000 Yes Robin KellyIllinois District 02$32,000 $63,250 Yes Debbie DingellMichigan District 12$26,700 $18,500 Yes Mark PocanWisconsin District 02$24,250 $13,509 Yes Katherine ClarkMassachusetts District 05$24,043 $98,950 Yes Emanuel CleaverMissouri District 05$22,500 $16,500 Yes Ed PerlmutterColorado District 07$22,050 $10,600 Yes Maxine WatersCalifornia District 43$21,000 $1,000 Yes Sanford BishopGeorgia District 02$20,500 $8,500 Yes Anna EshooCalifornia District 18$20,200 $196,240 Yes Eric SwalwellCalifornia District 15$19,985 $84,375 Yes Adam SmithWashington District 09$19,500 $15,775 Yes Kathy CastorFlorida District 14$19,000 $4,750 Yes Paul TonkoNew York District 20$18,000 $36,105 Yes Ted DeutchFlorida District 22$18,000 $12,760 Yes Joyce BeattyOhio District 03$17,860 $33,000 Yes John LewisGeorgia District 05$17,500 $17,750 Yes Ruben GallegoArizona District 07$17,295 $14,000 Yes Jared PolisColorado District 02$16,500 $32,428 Yes Brendan BoylePennsylvania District 13$15,675 $42,000 Yes Ro KhannaCalifornia District 17$15,602 $29,800 Yes Diana DeGetteColorado District 01$15,000 $155,254 Yes G K ButterfieldNorth Carolina District 01$15,000 $125,260 Yes William L Clay Jr.Missouri District 01$14,500 $21,000 Yes Brenda LawrenceMichigan District 14$14,075 $0Yes Danny K DavisIllinois District 07$14,000 $40,326 Yes Brad ShermanCalifornia District 30$13,100 $11,600 Yes Mike DoylePennsylvania District 14$13,000 $15,000 Yes Dwight EvansPennsylvania District 02$12,600 $13,000 Yes Gregory W MeeksNew York District 05$12,000 $26,100 Yes Alan LowenthalCalifornia District 47$11,750 $2,000 Yes Keith EllisonMinnesota District 05$11,686 $25,505 Yes House Cosponsor Avg$11,618 $25,022 Yes Jim CooperTennessee District 05$11,000 $5,000 Yes Darren SotoFlorida District 09$11,000 $3,000 Yes Robert A BradyPennsylvania District 01$10,700 $0Yes Ted LieuCalifornia District 33$10,500 $48,450 Yes Carolyn B MaloneyNew York District 12$10,500 $300Yes Lou CorreaCalifornia District 46$10,250 $24,750 Yes Hank JohnsonGeorgia District 04$10,000 $11,500 Yes Peter WelchVermont District 01$9,514 $38,504 Yes Jackie SpeierCalifornia District 14$9,200 $73,400 Yes Rick NolanMinnesota District 08$8,646 $4,091 Yes Alma AdamsNorth Carolina District 12$8,500 $10,000 Yes Bobby L RushIllinois District 01$8,500 $3,500 Yes Bobby ScottVirginia District 03$8,500 $0Yes Peter DeFazioOregon District 04$8,019 $107Yes Michael E CapuanoMassachusetts District 07$8,000 $34,000 Yes John A YarmuthKentucky District 03$7,900 $3,500 Yes James P McGovernMassachusetts District 02$7,850 $25,000 Yes Andre CarsonIndiana District 07$7,250 $39,151 Yes Marc VeaseyTexas District 33$7,200 $31,750 Yes Suzanne BonamiciOregon District 01$7,100 $21,200 Yes Tulsi GabbardHawaii District 02$6,550 $4,045 Yes Don BeyerVirginia District 08$6,500 $30,050 Yes Yvette D ClarkeNew York District 09$6,000 $12,500 Yes Jerry McNerneyCalifornia District 09$6,000 $8,500 Yes Jimmy PanettaCalifornia District 20$6,000 $2,750 Yes Frederica WilsonFlorida District 24$6,000 $2,000 Yes Nydia M VelazquezNew York District 07$6,000 $2,000 Yes David LoebsackIowa District 02$5,000 $45,200 Yes Anthony BrownMaryland District 04$5,000 $15,950 Yes Brian M HigginsNew York District 26$5,000 $1,000 Yes Luis V GutierrezIllinois District 04$5,000 $500Yes Chellie PingreeMaine District 01$5,000 $0Yes Karen BassCalifornia District 37$4,823 $3,500 Yes Marcia L FudgeOhio District 11$4,800 $17,000 Yes John GaramendiCalifornia District 03$4,800 $3,750 Yes Bonnie ColemanNew Jersey District 12$4,700 $44,175 Yes Jim LangevinRhode Island District 02$4,700 $6,500 Yes Filemon VelaTexas District 34$4,000 $8,500 Yes Dina TitusNevada District 01$4,000 $6,000 Yes Barbara LeeCalifornia District 13$3,738 $37,040 Yes Eliot L EngelNew York District 16$3,500 $53,700 Yes Steve CohenTennessee District 09$3,500 $2,500 Yes Al LawsonFlorida District 05$3,500 $0Yes Louise M SlaughterNew York District 25$3,500 $0Yes Mark A TakanoCalifornia District 41$3,425 $4,010 Yes Hakeem JeffriesNew York District 08$3,000 $6,250 Yes Jerrold NadlerNew York District 10$3,000 $2,700 Yes Jamie RaskinMaryland District 08$2,503 $11,107 Yes Bennie G ThompsonMississippi District 02$2,500 $26,000 Yes David CicillineRhode Island District 01$2,350 $7,000 Yes Jan SchakowskyIllinois District 09$2,035 $500Yes Nita M LoweyNew York District 17$2,003 $31,900 Yes Zoe LofgrenCalifornia District 19$2,000 $18,600 Yes Grace MengNew York District 06$2,000 $12,000 Yes Matt CartwrightPennsylvania District 17$2,000 $10,000 Yes Lucille Roybal-AllardCalifornia District 40$2,000 $6,000 Yes Elijah E CummingsMaryland District 07$2,000 $3,500 Yes Grace NapolitanoCalifornia District 32$1,500 $2,000 Yes Donald M Payne Jr.New Jersey District 10$1,400 $16,000 Yes Jared HuffmanCalifornia District 02$1,100 $5,900 Yes John SarbanesMaryland District 03$1,050 $3,255 Yes David PriceNorth Carolina District 04$1,000 $24,250 Yes Albio SiresNew Jersey District 08$1,000 $8,000 Yes Marcy KapturOhio District 09$1,000 $2,750 Yes Vicente GonzalezTexas District 15$1,000 $0Yes Eleanor Holmes NortonDistrict of Columbia District 00$750$0Yes Nanette BarraganCalifornia District 44$413$14,372 Yes Alcee L HastingsFlorida District 20$300$2,000 Yes Mark DesaulnierCalifornia District 11$130$500Yes Judy ChuCalifornia District 27$0$23,000 Yes Tim RyanOhio District 13$0$4,500 Yes Pramila JayapalWashington District 07$0$3,834 Yes Sheila Jackson LeeTexas District 18$0$3,500 Yes Adriano EspaillatNew York District 13$0$3,200 Yes Adam SchiffCalifornia District 28$0$1,000 Yes Al GreenTexas District 09$0$1,000 Yes Pete ViscloskyIndiana District 01$0$1,000 Yes Raul M GrijalvaArizona District 03$0$10Yes Jose E SerranoNew York District 15$0$0Yes Total amount shown includes donations to leadership PACs and campaign committees. Totals cover 2015-2016.


Unsurprisingly, party leaders received the most contributions from the health industry in both houses.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Ny.) led his caucus in donations from health insurance companies and ranks third in donations from pharmaceutical companies between 2011 and 2016. Schumer has not committed to supporting the bill.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) received the most donations from health insurance companies and second most from pharma in his caucus between 2015 and 2016 and does not support single-payer.

Nevertheless, some Democrats have chosen to defy the interests of their large donors, such as Sen. Cory Booker (D-Nj.) and House Caucus Chair Joseph Crowley (D-Ny.). Booker and Crowley are respectively the sixth and ninth most well-funded by pharma in their caucus but have cosponsored single-payer proposals.

Both industries that stand to lose from a government-run healthcare system gave record contributions to Democrats in the 2016 cycle and continue to support Senate Democrats in 2018. Notably, Pfizer donated $15,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee shortly after 16 senators simultaneously backed single-payer, signalling an effort to influence the party.

Meanwhile, health insurer Centene, which donated around $1 million last cycle, is currently the top corporate donor of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). McCaskill told Politico last fall that she is not ready to support single-payer, but is being challenged by a primary opponent who does.

Congressional Democrats’ ties to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries have long been tight. Former Democratic House Speaker Dick Gephardt of Missouri owns the lobbying firm Gephardt Group, which has lobbied on behalf of such clients as UnitedHealth Group and Bayer, its highest-paying client last year.

Gephardt was asked by The Intercept for his thoughts on the prospect of a single-payer system.

“Not in my lifetime,” he replied.

Follow these links to see the influence and lobbying profiles of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

The post Campaign funding from Health Insurance and Pharma blocks hopes for Single-Payer enthusiasts appeared first on OpenSecrets Blog.

Categories: Further Reading

Trump’s state in the eye of the Union

Open Secrets - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 11:38

(Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Expect the phrase “America First.” The name Gorsuch. And something will be “great.”

President Trump’s first State of Union will likely take the shape of a recent op-ed in which he outlined first-year success with second-year goals.

Reports suggest Trump’s speech will center on four topics: the economy, immigration, infrastructure, trade and defense.

Here’s a primer on what to expect and the special interests who’ll be listening closely.


Trump told reporters Monday the speech would touch on the “great success with the markets, and with the tax cut” as well as bipartisan immigration reform and trade. The president won’t be shy about discussing a healthy economy.

The stock market’s up, unemployment’s down and Fortune 500 companies are doling out employee bonuses from the newfound profits of last month’s tax cut that double as good press for Trump and congressional Republicans.

Nearly 1,400 organizations lobbied on behalf of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the most lobbied bill of 2017, according to a CRP analysis. Lobbyists working on issues related to taxes also donated nearly $10 million to members of Congress in the first nine months of the year. (Total donations will almost certainly rise in year-end filings due this week).

The Business Roundtable, a trade association representing CEOs, spent a record $27 million lobbying last year, ranking third overall in annual lobbying spending. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, another major proponent of the bill, spent $82 million.

An unexpected beneficiary of the tax plan in the financial sector were private equity and investment firms, which managed to escape Trump’s campaign pledge to close the so-called carried interest loophole that hedge funds and private equity firms with the help of last-minute aggressive lobbying, The New York Times reported.

Private equity and investment firms donated a record $118 million on behalf of federal candidates and committees in the 2016 cycle and spent more than $9 million last year on lobbying, the most since 2014.

Trump will likely link the healthy economy to deregulation: In his January letter, Trump repeated his plus-one, minus-two approach to government regulations, a calculus he’s applied liberally, from consumer protections to environmental safety.

“Not only did we meet that goal,” according to the letter attributed to Trump. “[W]e far exceeded it, eliminating 22 regulatory actions for every new regulation.”

(For details, see the Brookings Institute’s handy tool for “tracking deregulation in the Trump era.”)

Many of the deregulations have benefited the energy and natural resources sector, from the oil-and-gas to mining industries. The most high-profile changes include lifting restrictions on coal production aimed at reducing carbon emissions and pollution, approving constructions of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve for drilling.

In the 2016 cycle, the energy and natural resources sector made $171 million in political contributions then spent $314 million on lobbying last year. The oil and gas industry also gave about $7 million for Trump’s 2017 inauguration ceremonies.

Trump has hinted at loosening additional regulations for the financial sector, specifically targeting Dodd-Frank. In January, Trump told reporters he supported loosening the consumer lending regulations put into place by the 2010 law and had previously broached the idea with Wall Street, according to The Hill.

“Trump met with bankers and their lobbyists at the White House several times last year on how they’d like to change Dodd-Frank,” The Hill reported.

Wall Street donors, representing the securities and investments industry, contributed about $21 million toward Trump’s 2016 election and another $15 million to his inauguration festivities, the largest donations by an industry in either category.

Trump’s small-government, corporate-centric approach appeared to attract the attention of labor and public unions.

Labor contributions in federal elections last cycle reached a record $215 million, 88 percent of which benefited Democratic candidates. The National Active & Retired Federal Employees Association, a trade group representing federal employees, spent a record $340,000 lobbying for its public employees as well.


Trump during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

No debate is dividing Washington more than immigration, specifically what to do with those protected under the expiring DACA program, an Obama-era policy that Trump said he supports — with strings attached.

Last week, the Trump administration released a four-point “framework” for legislation that combines immigration reform and border security.

Top of the list is border security, and a request for a “$25 billion trust fund for the border wall system” as well the hiring of additional border guards, immigration judges, prosecutors, and other DHS and ICE personnel. Second on the list is DACA legislation.

Last year, 613 organizations — from corporations and universities, to trade associations and single-issue groups — lobbied on the issue of immigration, the highest lobbying activity since 2013.

No organization spent more time lobbying on immigration last year than Microsoft, an employer of high-skilled immigrant workers. Google was second on the list. Other tech companies that listed immigration in multiple disclosure forms included Dropbox, Facebook, Intel and Cisco. Executives from over 100 major U.S. corporations, including tech firms, also recently called on Congress to pass “permanent bipartisan” legislation to protect DACA recipients, or so-called Dreamers.

FWD.us, a pro-DACA coalition of tech companies, spent $1 million last year lobbying on behalf of permanent DACA protection. The National Council of La Raza, one of the most active immigration reform groups, spent over $370,000 on federal lobbying last year, its highest spending total since 2010.

Not all immigration lobbying was pro-reform, however. NumbersUSA has spent about $500,000 each of the past three years — and nearly $6 million over the past decade — lobbying against immigration reform. Federation for American Immigration Reform, a similar group, increased its spending on lobbying to its highest level in eight years in 2017.


Trump’s talk on foreign policy will likely include a nod to the progress against the Islamic State group, tough words for North Korea, and perhaps a warning about the dangers of mimicking Europe’s more open-door policy with asylum seekers.

Expect a pitch tonight for more defense spending as well.

According to The Washington Post, Trump’s upcoming 2019 budget proposal includes a request for $716 billion for the Defense Department, or a 13 percent increase from its $634 billion in 2017 spending. (Its 2018 budget has yet to pass Congress). The funding is intended to “boost training” and for “modernizing the military’s aging weapons systems” based on a recommendation by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, The Post reported.

*Nearly 800 lobbyists representing over 200 clients in the defense sector spent $127 million lobbying the federal government last year and made nearly $30 million in contributions during the 2016 cycle. Of the $29.7 million in donations, 41 percent came from just four defense contractors — Lockheed Martin; Boeing; Northrop Grumman; and Raytheon.

Lockheed and Boeing each donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee as two of only seven companies that gave at least seven figures on the January 2017 gala. Northrop spent $100,000. 


Whether $200 billion in infrastructure spending could pass a Congress staring down a projected $1.5 trillion budget deficit over the next decade is debatable. But Trump will reportedly make a case tonight.

In his “Contract with the American Voter” released before the election, Trump said he planned to pursue $1 trillion in infrastructure investments through tax incentives and public-private partnerships. A plan, he said, that would be “revenue neutral.”

A draft of the plan, as reported by Bloomberg and others recently, reportedly would allocate $200 billion of federal money to spur more than $1 trillion in spending by states, localities and the private sector.

Jamar Penny/UpSplash

Trade associations, such as American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, are skeptical the plan would pass a divided Congress, much less fully address the country’s deeply neglected roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AT&T, the American Federation of Government Employees, American Petroleum Institute and Southern Co. had the highest number of lobbyists working on infrastructure issues last year.


Last week, the Trump administration announced new tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels.

The reason? The imports were a “substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers,” according to a statement from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a Trump appointee.

The winners? Two domestic manufacturers, Suniva and SolarWorld, that had suffered declining sales and layoffs in recent years (and spent a combined $500,000 on federal lobbying last year).

The losers? About 23,000 American workers who actually installed the imported solar panel components now subject to the new tariffs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Trump could address these tariffs (or suggest new ones) tonight as part of a broader vision for trade policy in 2018.

*Correction: A previous version of the story stated 8,000 lobbyists represented the defense sector in 2017. We regret this error. 

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Categories: Further Reading

Drain the swamp? Lobbyists are filling it up

Open Secrets - Fri, 01/26/2018 - 14:11

President Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp. Instead, it’s filling up.

For the first time since 2007, the number of registered lobbyists along with federal lobbying spending went up, reversing annual declines that began a decade ago.

In all, $3.34 billion was spent on federal lobbying last year, up 6 percent from $3.15 billion in 2016. The increase comes after declines in spending five of the last six years, rising less than 1 percent the other year.

The 6-percent increase is the largest year-to-year bump since former President George W. Bush’s final year in office in 2008. A crackdown on lobbyists by the Obama administration curtailed years of free spending, which rose from $1.6 billion in 2000 to a record $3.5 billion in 2010.



Until 2017, the number of registered lobbyists had dropped each of the past 10 years, from a record high of 14,827 in 2007 to a 20-year low of 11,169 in 2016.

Last year, 11,444 registered lobbyists appeared in quarterly reports filed with Congress. The reports include basic information on spending, issues and entities lobbied, usually with vague language and broad strokes.

A fourth-quarter report by Kevin Kayes of QGA Public Affairs, for instance, said the firm was paid $37,500 by U.S. Steel to lobby on “trade law enforcement.” The audience was “U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives.”

Based on the report – typical for most filings – the members of Congress who were lobbied by the firm is obscured from public scrutiny.  

Did one of the partners grab a bullhorn and yell from the Senate gallery? Or was there a luncheon with, say, Florida House Republican Ron DeSantis, a lawmaker who listed U.S. Steel stock as an asset on his 2016 financial disclosure?

The final tally of registered lobbyists from 2017 will likely rise.

Fourth quarter lobbying reports were due to Congress by Jan. 22, but about 8 percent of lobbyists who had filed during the previous three quarters of 2017 did so after the filing deadline passed – without explanation or consequence.

In the first three quarters of 2017, a combined 6,590 reports — or nearly 1 in 10 — were filed after the quarterly deadline, often weeks after news stories discussed the ongoing decline in quarterly lobbying in Trump’s Washington (our stories included). 

Not all the late filings were standard quarterly reports, however. Some were amendments or terminations; others were submitted to show no activity at all. (Keep track of updated lobbying spending with CRP’s lobbying comparison tool).

Two perennial giants of federal lobbying spending — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Realtors — again topped the list of big spenders, despite declines from last year.



The Chamber ($82 million) and Realtors ($56 million) dropped a combined $138 million during a year in which Congress passed a tax overhaul that impacts both the financial and real estate industries. In 2016, the Chamber ($104 million) and the Realtors ($65 million) spent about $169 million.

The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs, spent nearly twice as much on lobbying in 2017 than 2016 — not surprising since cutting the corporate tax rate was central to the GOP tax rewrite. The CEO group spent a record $27 million last year compared to $16 million the previous year.

As The Washington Post reported earlier this week, Google spent more on federal lobbying last year ($18 million) than any other U.S. company. That was a first for a tech company.

As expected, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law last month received the lion’s share of lobbying interest. Nearly 1,400 organizations lobbied for or against the bill — or more than double what groups had allocated over the fate of the Affordable Care Act.


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Categories: Further Reading

Secret donors come back to boost former-Koch group

Open Secrets - Thu, 01/25/2018 - 04:11

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A secretive political group that is little more than a mailbox full of money in a Des Moines UPS Store raised more than $29.4 million in 2016, most of which was funneled into ads aimed at electing Republicans.

Tax documents obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics show that American Future Fund (AFF), a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization that doesn’t have to disclose its donors, had a banner year in 2016.

The $29.4 million haul marks the group’s highest revenues since it was cut from the constellation of political organizations linked to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch amidst a campaign money laundering scandal in 2012. In 2015, the dark money group raised just a little over $350,000.

Bringing in such a considerable sum is no small feat for an organization that boasts no employees nor any measurable social welfare beyond its robust political spending. But in the world of secretive political groups, it’s not an anomaly.

A combination of unclear rules and lax oversight from both the IRS and the FEC has made it easy for nominally apolitical groups like AFF to become vehicles for secret political money, allowing wealthy corporate and individual donors to spend in elections without any public fingerprints.

Nearly 90 percent of American Future Fund’s revenue in 2016 came from donors giving between $1 million and $8 million. But because groups like AFF are not technically political organizations, and therefore not subject to the same disclosure requirements as political action committees (PACs), the entities fueling AFF with seven-figure checks will remain far from the public eye.

Stealth Rubio Group

AFF reported more than $12.7 million in spending on political advocacy in 2016. During the Republican presidential primaries, observers noted a trend wherein the group would go after Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) opponents, one by one, without ever actually mentioning Rubio.

AFF started by spending $1.5 million against John Kasich (R-Ohio) in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses. It spent another $1.5 million against Ted Cruz (R-Texas) before the New Hampshire primaries.

Then, after AFF hit Donald Trump with a sustained $6.8 million in attack ads over two months, criticizing his involvement in the Trump University fraud lawsuits, Trump hit back, calling it a “Phony Rubio commercial.”

Phony Rubio commercial. I could have settled, but won’t out of principle! See student surveys. https://t.co/KKHiBH554d

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 29, 2016

Trump ultimately agreed to pay a $25 million settlement in the Trump University cases, so it wasn’t “phony.” But Trump appears to have been right about the Rubio ties.

Tax documents for a group called Conservative Solutions Project obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics show the group — which was set up by Rubio allies to boost his campaign with money raised from anonymous donors — gave $1 million to AFF.

The CSP grant came after Rubio had dropped out of the presidential race. In the final weeks of the election, however, when Rubio was fighting to keep his Senate seat, AFF spent $2.8 million against his opponent, Patrick Murphy (D-Fla), and Rubio clenched the victory.

AFF’s largest outlays — beyond its direct political spending — came in the form of more than $4.7 million in grants, the largest of which went to other dark money groups active in the 2016 elections.

Groups like AFF often disperse grants as a way to get around IRS limits on political spending because they can count the grants to other 501(c) organizations as “social welfare” spending, even when the recipient groups are also spending the money on politics.

AFF gave $3 million to the National Rifle Association, boosting the gun rights group’s historic spending in support of Donald Trump’s successful campaign.

It gave another $750,000 to Ending Spending and $708,500 to The Progress Project, it’s sister organization. Both groups were active in helping Republicans keep their majorities in the House and Senate in 2016.

Nonprofit For Hire

American Future Fund was founded in 2007 as one of the first politically active nonprofit groups to be funded by the Koch donor network. Years before Citizens United, AFF and other groups sprung up during the 2008 election cycle to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s Wisconsin Right to Life v FEC decision, which freed social welfare organizations like AFF and others to run politically charged issue ads close to an election.

Then, during the 2012 elections, AFF was embroiled in a campaign money laundering scandal in California, and the attention caused it to be exiled from the constellation of groups funded by the Koch donor network. Ever since, AFF has become something of roving dark money group in search of donors with a purpose.

In 2014, for example, it was a conduit for GOP establishment money, flowing through other dark money groups close to Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and into races, such as the Senate election in North Carolina, where it made pro-marijuana ads for the libertarian in the race in an attempt to pull votes from Democratic incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).

At the same time, AFF was buying ads in Politico and the The Wall Street Journal referring to Puerto Rico’s ongoing debt crisis and accusing the then-Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, as being part of a “Culture of Corruption.”

As the Center for Responsive Politics reported at the time, the ads were timed to run right as a lawsuit brought by the Doral Financial Group was to go to court — a suit the bank ultimately won, receiving a  $230 million tax refund from the Puerto Rican government.

In early January 2018, AFF spent $250,000 on digital and cable ads calling on President Trump and Congress “to act on a bipartsian solution to improving our immigration system.”

The post Secret donors come back to boost former-Koch group appeared first on OpenSecrets Blog.

Categories: Further Reading

Food grown with oily water

Lloyd G Carter Blog - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 13:59


Categories: Further Reading

Whitefish spent $150K lobbying Congress after Puerto Rico disaster

Open Secrets - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 13:56

(Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The small Montana energy company that botched the critical rebuilding of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria spent $150,000 lobbying Congress last quarter amid investigations, a disclosure report filed Friday shows.

The fourth quarter lobbying report shows that Whitefish paid the law firm Foley & Lardner to have five representatives lobby the Senate and House on the company’s behalf.

What the firm was specifically hired to accomplish is unclear.

In the report, under “Specific lobbying issues,” Foley & Lardner wrote “Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to rebuild transmission lines damaged from recent hurricane damage.”

The five lobbyists working for Whitefish included two former members of Congress (David Cardoza and Scott Klug); two former congressional staffers (Jennifer Walsh and Ted Bornstein); and Michael Crossen, an attorney whose experience includes representing “businesses before boards and administrative agencies in all forms dispute resolutions,” according to a company profile.

Whitefish Energy and Foley & Lardner did not immediately respond to questions from the Center for Responsive Politics on Wednesday.

Last year, Whitefish was thrust into controversy after it was awarded a $300 million contract by Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), an electric power corporation owned by the Puerto Rican government, to rebuild the island’s power grids after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory. The September disaster knocked out the power of 3.4 million residents on the island and resulted in a death toll that may be upwards of 1,000.

The Puerto Rican government gave the two-person Montana utility company the contract almost out of the blue, without a competitive bidding process and with significant price markups.

The deal also drew skepticism because the company is based in the small hometown of Ryan Zinke, interior secretary for the Trump administration. Zinke denied claims that he was tied to the contract.

“I had absolutely nothing to do with Whitefish Energy receiving a contract in Puerto Rico,” Zinke said in a statement. “Any attempts by the dishonest media or political operatives to tie me to awarding or influencing any contract involving Whitefish are completely baseless. Only in elitist Washington D.C. would being from a small town be considered a crime.”

In October, PREPA canceled the contract with Whitefish as it drew investigations by the Department of Homeland Security, multiple House committees and the Puerto Rican government.

When news broke the company had signed with Foley & Lardner, a Whitefish spokesman said in a statement to The Hill that the firm was hired to give the company “representation in D.C.”

“Whitefish Energy has a reputation to uphold and we felt that Foley would help us in being able to have those conversations in a productive manner,” said Ken Luce, a former spokesman for the company.

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Categories: Further Reading

Executives calling for DACA solution backed by bipartisan funding clout

Open Secrets - Wed, 01/24/2018 - 11:12

President Trump and Vice President Pence meet with Congressional leadership(Photo by Olivier Douliery – Pool/Getty Images)

Executives from over 100 major U.S. corporations, including Apple, General Motors and Amazon, penned a letter to Congress this month, seeking “permanent bipartisan” legislation that would protect DACA recipients from deportation.

“We have seen time and again that the overwhelming majority of the American public of all political backgrounds agrees that we should protect Dreamers from deportation,” the letter read.

The letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), was signed by 140 prominent executives from companies whose employees have made a combined $98.2 million in political contributions over the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.

The partisan breakdown of these contributions is a near even split, with about 53 percent of money going to Democratic candidates and liberal fundraising entities and 47 percent going to Republican candidates and conservative entities. (“Entities” include party committees, leadership PACs, outside spending groups and 527 committees).

As polarizing of a political issue as immigration is, the letter framed the looming termination of the DACA program as a “crisis” — not just a humanitarian one, but an economic one.

“(F)ailure to act in time will lead to businesses losing valuable talent, cause disruptions in the workforce, and will result in significant costs,” according to the letter, citing economists “across the political spectrum” who estimated that failing to protect DACA recipients could cause the economy to lose $215 billion in GDP.

An estimated 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children will be subject to deportation without a permanent resolution to DACA.

The two companies whose employees contributed the most money to political causes — AT&T and Blackstone Group — heavily favored Republican and conservative causes in the 2016 and 2018 cycles.

AT&T employees, who have made $14.2 million in political contributions since 2015, favored Republican and conservative causes, contributing $4.8 million more than to Democratic and liberal causes. Blackstone Group, an asset management company and the second highest contributor at $10.4 million, donated $5.2 million more to Republican and conservative causes.

Many of the executives who signed the letter have made generous political donations. Signing executives from the top-10 contributing corporations alone have donated $323,100 since 2015.

These executives favored Democratic and liberal causes to Republican and conservative causes — 74 percent to 26 percent, respectively. However, excluding Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who donated $141,000 to Democratic and liberal causes, the breakdown is nearly even at 54 percent to 46 percent.

Executives from the top-10 contributing companies have donated $22,600 to the congressional leaders addressed in the letter during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, including $10,800 to Schumer; $9,100 to Ryan; and $2,700 to Pelosi.

The letter called on Congress to protect so-called “Dreamers” before Jan.19, but the contentious issue prompted a temporary government shutdown as Republicans and Democrats sparred over the inclusion of a provision protecting DACA recipients in the government funding bill.

When the government reopened Monday after the passage of a three-week funding resolution, McConnell said it would be his intention to take up legislation pertaining to “DACA, border security, and related issues,” should they not be resolved by Feb. 8.

In the meantime, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he will donate $33 million to provide college scholarships for DACA recipients.

The post Executives calling for DACA solution backed by bipartisan funding clout appeared first on OpenSecrets Blog.

Categories: Further Reading

Lobbying by Telecom industry spikes to end 2017

Open Secrets - Tue, 01/23/2018 - 09:51

Photo by Kevin on Unsplash

Lobbying by the primary trade group of the telecommunications industry jumped 71 percent in the last three months of 2017, when the Federal Communications Commission readied to vote on a controversial yet successful end to net neutrality.

The Internet and Television Association (NCTA) spent about $4.3 million in fourth quarter lobbying, up from $2.5 million in the previous quarter, according to disclosure reports. About $1.2 million of the NCTA’s spending last quarter was outsourced to outside lobbyists, many of whom included “net neutrality” on their fourth-quarter reports filed by Monday’s deadline.

The fourth quarter disclosures covered lobbying activity from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31.

NCTA lobbied on a myriad of bills unrelated to net neutrality in 2017, but the group has been particularly critical of the Obama-era protection endorsed by the FCC.

In February 2015, the FCC passed a rule prohibiting internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking, slowing or speeding up web content or charging customers additional fees to access certain web services. NCTA filed their unhappiness with the U.S. Supreme Court and has lobbied to overturn it ever since.

Then in November, new FCC chair and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai announced a plan to overturn the 2015 ruling that had safeguarded net neutrality, a regulation opposed by broadband internet providers. The FCC approved Pai’s proposal in December.

Aside from NCTA, the four largest U.S. internet service providers – AT&T, Charter Communications, Comcast and Verizon – spent a combined $10.8 million on federal lobbying in the final quarter of 2017.

Roughly a third of the spending ($4.3 million) came from Comcast, the largest U.S. broadband provider.

Charter Communications, whose CEO is chair of the board at NCTA, spent $2.6 million in the fourth quarter, up 40 percent from the $1.9 million the company spent in the previous quarter.  

Meanwhile, some of the country’s largest technology companies and web content providers had opposed the FCC’s plan to reverse net neutrality, and their fourth quarter lobbying reflected a desire to persuade the FCC to abandon its proposal – albeit unsuccessfully.

Google ($4.4 million), Amazon ($3.3 million) and Facebook ($3.1 million) spent a combined $10.8 million on lobbying issues including net neutrality protection.

Tech giants Apple ($1.6 million) and Microsoft ($2.2 million) lobbied at least part of the time on net neutrality, as did Netflix ($200,000) and Twitter ($140,000).

The Internet Association, one of the most politically active trade groups lobbying on behalf of internet companies, spent $300,000 during the fourth quarter and $1.2 million overall last year as well.

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Categories: Further Reading

Companies that funded Trump’s inauguration came up big in 2017

Open Secrets - Fri, 01/19/2018 - 12:25

(Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised a record $107 million with the help of wealthy benefactors but also through donations from more than 200 corporations and anonymous LLCs, some of which held government contracts.

On the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, OpenSecrets took a look at the 63 federal contractors that collectively contributed $16.3 million to finance the festivities to see how they’ve fared in the first year of his presidency.

Some have received lucrative contracts; others have shed executives who now sit among Trump’s political appointees; and still others have earned an unprecedented level of access to the new administration.

Contracts and the pay-to-play loophole

Of the 63 federal contractors that donated to the inauguration, more than half won multimillion-dollar bids in 2017, federal records show. Six companies earned contracts last year after not receiving any awards in 2016.

Federal law forbids government contractors from making contributions to candidates and political action committees. However, there is no such rule against contributions to post-election activities like the presidential inauguration, a loophole that allows contractors to dole out unlimited donations in hopes of bolstering their chances of landing contracts with the new administration.

“Pay-to-play politics – in which government contractors make campaign contributions to those responsible for awarding government contracts – is one of the most pernicious forms of undue influence peddling at the local, state and federal levels,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen.

And government contractors are taking advantage of this unregulated loophole provided by lavish inaugurations, Holman said.

“[I]naugural committees are not covered by pay-to-play laws … as a result, the single largest bloc of money given to presidential inaugural committees typically comes from corporations who are seeking government contracts,” he said.

For his 2009 inauguration, Obama refused contributions from federal contractors. He reversed course in 2013 but ultimately raised a comparatively paltry $1.6 million from 23 contractors; 13 also funded Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

CoreCivic, which owns and operates private prisons, has seen a 935 percent increase in federal contract awards from 2016 to 2017 thanks to a change of heart at the Department of Justice.

Fifteen days after being confirmed U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama-era order designed to phase out for-profit prisons for federal inmates. The phase-out followed a DOJ report that found poor management practices at a CoreCivic facility contributed to an inmate riot that killed a prison guard in 2012.

Since Sessions’ announcement, the DOJ has awarded $388 million in federal contracts to CoreCivic. The company contributed $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration through a subsidiary.

The largest for-profit prison provider, Geo Group, also contributed $250,000 to the inauguration along with $225,000 to Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC that backed Trump during his 2016 presidential bid.  

The contractor, which received half a billion dollars in federal payments has come under scrutiny for violating the pay-to-play rules but claims that it is exempt as the contributions were made by a non contracting subsidiary of the organization.

Another inauguration company linked to the prison industry, Union Supply Group, has seen an 18 percent increase in contract awards since 2016. The organization provides commissary services for federal prisons and received $138,000 from the DOJ in 2017 contracts.

The two companies that received the most in federal contracts also contributed to the inauguration efforts last year and have seen benefits in the first year of the Trump presidency.  

Lockheed Martin, the top recipient of federal money, received $46 billion in contract awards, a 14 percent increase from 2016.

Boeing, the second-largest government contractor, ran into early opposition from Trump in December 2016 when Trump tweeted the following about Boeing’s Air Force One contract, which he claimed was over budget.

Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016

In September 2017 Boeing ultimately won the bidding process for the $600 million contract to build the Air Force One replacements.  

Contributions to the inaugural fund didn’t necessarily guarantee lucrative government awards, however. For instance, BP America, saw a 58 percent reduction in government contracts in Trump’s first year despite contributing a sizable $500,000 to his inauguration.  

In total, just over half of the companies that gave to the inauguration saw an increase in contract money from 2016 to 2017.


Some companies that donated to Trump’s inauguration didn’t secure government contracts last year but benefited in other ways.

In 2016, Dow Chemical was awarded both a $1.9 million federal grant for bioenergy research and $1 million as part of an ongoing agreement with the Energy Department. The company gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration but didn’t receive federal contracts or grants last year.

However, Dow benefited tremendously last year in two major ways: First, the DOJ approved their $130 billion merger with DuPont in spite of a number of antitrust concerns that had previously delayed the merger.  

The new entity, DowDuPont, has prospered in the last year as the result of an amenable EPA, which includes business friendly leadership in Scott Pruitt and Nancy Beck, the top deputy of the toxic chemicals division. Beck is a former executive at the American Chemistry Council, the trade association that represents companies in the chemical industry like DowDuPont.  

The EPA recently rejected a recommended ban on chlorpyrifos, a Dow pesticide that studies suggest has adverse effects on humans. The agency also appears to be streamlining the chemical approval process, which will allow companies such as DowDuPont to get its products to market faster.  

Other inaugural contributors that won big in the first year of Trump’s presidency include six telecommunication and electronics companies – AT&T,  Verizon, Charter Communications, Comcast, Intel and Qualcomm – which contributed a combined $4.1 million to the inauguration.

The companies opposed the net neutrality rules promulgated by the Obama administration that were ultimately repealed by the FCC in December.

Perhaps the most glaring instance of an inaugural donor receiving special treatment last year was Robert Murray, the executive of Murray Energy, which contributed $300,000 to the inauguration from its corporate coffers.  

Last week, The New York Times reported Murray sent a memo in March to Vice President Mike Pence entitled “Action Plan for the Administration of President Donald J. Trump,” which outlined 16 policy requests the Trump administration has either completed or is working to fulfill.

Inaugural underwriters were also treated with direct access to members of the Trump administration, such as candlelight dinners with Pence and his wife or lunch with Cabinet appointees.

Researcher Josh Finkelstein contributed to this report.

Correction 1/22/18 – An earlier version of this piece incorrectly mentioned Apollo Education Group as having a government contract worth $500,000. The contract was awarded to a former subsidiary that was incorrectly labeled in the GSA’s contract data. Due to this error, we have omitted the mention of Apollo from the piece.

The post Companies that funded Trump’s inauguration came up big in 2017 appeared first on OpenSecrets Blog.

Categories: Further Reading

Trump’s top donors: Where are they now?

Open Secrets - Thu, 01/18/2018 - 13:21

President Donald Trump gives his Inaugural Address(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

One year ago, President Donald Trump’s inauguration broke records – not in turnout, but in inaugural donations.

Trump pulled in $107 million in individual contributions, nearly doubling President Barack Obama’s 2009 record of $53 million. With the donations came a set of perks for top donors“intimate” dinners with Vice President Mike Pence; exclusive luncheons with Cabinet appointees and congressional leaders; tickets to inaugural balls, dinners and luncheons with appearances by Trump.

The money came flooding in from corporate executives, owners of U.S. sports teams and other wealthy benefactors. And this year, some came calling back.

The Center for Responsive Politics assessed Trump’s relationships with his top donors a year after the January 20, 2017 inauguration. Some now hold ambassador positions while others have developed close relationships with the administration.

Inaugural donors

The Adelsons (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Chief among the top donors was Sheldon Adelson, a GOP megadonor and CEO of the largest casino company in the United States, Las Vegas Sands Corp. He doled out $5 million for Trump’s inauguration fund.

The donation was not only Trump’s largest inaugural contribution, but the largest individual donation made to any presidential inaugural committee. He and his wife, Miriam Adelson, also donated nearly $83 million to Republicans in the 2016 election.

In the past year Adelson has pressed Trump to follow through on his campaign pledge to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move Trump announced in December.

“The Adelsons reportedly have been disappointed in Trump’s failure to keep a campaign pledge to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem on his first day in office,” wrote the Las Vegas Review-Journal after Adelson’s October meeting with Trump. The paper is owned by the Adelson family.

(Home Depot CEO Bernie Marcus, who donated $7 million to Trump’s campaign effort but was not an inaugural donor, also has a vested interest in the region as founder of the Israel Democracy Institute).

But he is not the only inaugural donor who may have turned his contribution into special access to the administration.

In April, coal baron Robert Murray, who donated $300,000 to the inauguration, gave Trump a detailed to-do list of environmental rollbacks, according to The New York Times. Since then, the administration is on track to check off most of Murray’s wish list.

The son of R.W. Habboush, a Venezuelan lobbyist who donated $666,000 to the inauguration, sat in on meetings about sanctions on Venezuela.

In the past year, a series of Trump donors or their close relatives have also been appointed U.S. ambassadors.

Notable among them is Robert Wood Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets. Johnson donated $1 million to the inauguration. In August, he was sworn in as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Joseph Craft III, president and CEO of Alliance Resource Partners, was another million-dollar donor to the inaugural committee. His wife, Kelly Knight Craft, was sworn in as the U.S. ambassador to Canada in September.

Doug Manchester, owner of Manchester Financial Group and another $1 million inaugural donor, was nominated for a position as the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas in May. Manchester is now awaiting a re-nomination from Trump because of a Senate rule.

Campaign donors

Many of the top inaugural donors also donated millions in support of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump’s top campaign donor, Robert Mercer, the billionaire co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, poured more than $15 million into outside groups to get Trump elected. Mercer also donated $1 million to the Trump inaugural committee. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel donated $1 million to Trump’s campaign efforts and $100,000 to the inauguration.

Each were top campaign donors and each held close relationships to the administration.

Of the more than $400 million raised to elect Trump, about $50 million was raised by Trump’s top 13 contributors (below) – many of whom have found themselves in the Trump administration’s inner circle.

DonorsOrganizationTotalCampaignOutside Groups Mercer, Robert L. & DianaRenaissance Technologies$15,510,800 $10,800 $15,500,000 Marcus, Bernard & Billi WilmaBernard Marcus Family Foundation$7,000,000 $0 $7,000,000 McMahon, Linda & VincentMcMahon Ventures$6,002,700 $2,700 $6,000,000 Palmer, Geoff & AnneGH Palmer AssociateS$5,005,400 $5,400 $5,000,000 Perlmutter, Isaac & LauraMarvel Entertainment$5,005,400 $5,400 $5,000,000 Beal, Andrew & SimonaBeal Bank$2,105,400 $5,400 $2,100,000 Cameron, Ronald & NinaMountaire Corp.$2,013,500 $13,500 $2,000,000 McNair, Robert & JaniceHouston Texans$2,010,800 $10,800 $2,000,000 Feinberg, Stephen & GisellaCerberus Capital Management$1,485,800 $10,800 $1,475,000 Zieve, Peter & MariaElectroimpact Inc$1,003,027 $3,027 $1,000,000 Thiel, PeterThiel Capital$1,002,700 $2,700 $1,000,000 Moskowitz, Irving & ChernaHawaiian Gardens Casino$1,000,000 $0 $1,000,000 Buckley, Walter & MarjorieBuckley Muething Capital Management$1,000,000 $0 $1,000,000

Some like Linda McMahon, owner of McMahon Ventures and co-founder of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) empire, donated over $6 million to getting Trump elected. Much of that was donated to Trump-aligned super PACs, such as Future45 and Rebuilding America Now.

McMahon was later appointed administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In 2009, Dallas banker Andrew Beal, who donated $2.1 million toward Trump’s presidential bid and $1 million for the inauguration, worked with Carl Ichan in an attempt to take control of the bankrupt Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. Ichan served as an advisor in the early months of the administration until he resigned ahead of a story detailing potential conflicts of interest.

Others toted close relationships to the administration like Stephen Feinburg, who donated $1.5 million to campaign efforts and had a close military ear in the Trump administration. That was before ex-White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon’s departure from the administration.

Steve Bannon (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Many of Trump’s top donors have stepped into the political spotlight in the wake of Trump and Bannon’s public feud.

Contributors like Feinburg, Thiel and Marcus – Trump’s second largest campaign donor – held close relationships to Bannon.

Some of them, such as GOP megadonors Adelson and the Mercer family, have since distanced themselves from Bannon in support of Trump. Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire daughter of Robert Mercer who runs the family business, severed ties with Bannon in a January statement to The Washington Post.

“I support President Trump and the platform upon which he was elected,” Rebekah Mercer said. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements.”

The post Trump’s top donors: Where are they now? appeared first on OpenSecrets Blog.

Categories: Further Reading

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