Congressional Finance Report-
- High-ranking congressmen made a concerted effort to financially distance themselves from BP
- Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) gave up all or a significant amount of their holdings in BP after the 2010 spill
- hundreds of individuals donated the legal maximum to two or more different presidential candidates
Many members of Congress actually have a vested interest — beyond just their political careers — in the performance of the same organizations that are supposed to be their watchdogs, a Center for Responsive Politics investigation indicates. About 60 U.S. senators and representatives, or their spouses, hold assets in at least 19 different news organizations or media conglomerates, according to the Center's analysis of federal personal financial disclosure documents covering calendar year 2009.
High-ranking congressmen made a concerted effort to financially distance themselves from BP in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, either by reducing or altogether dumping their stock holdings, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of lawmakers' newly released 2010 personal financial disclosure documents. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) gave up all or a significant amount of their holdings in BP after the 2010 spill, which leaked an estimated 205 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and killed 11 oil platform crew members in the initial explosion.
Texas home building mogul Bob Perry and his wife are financially supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. That'd hardly be news, except that they're also supporting Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, too. Such early double dipping, it turns out, is a standard part of presidential politicking. During the 2008 presidential election, hundreds of individuals donated the legal maximum to two or more different presidential candidates, a Center for Responsive Politics analysis indicates. And in some cases, the candidates were in different parties.
Dozens of congressmen are living the dream of a high school student who blew off last night's homework assignment: they asked for extensions filing their mandatory personal financial disclosure reports, and they got them. In all, one-fifth of the Senate and about one-sixth of the House won't file their forms until later this summer, meaning that until then, their personal assets and liabilities are shielded from public scrutiny. Read OpenSecrets.org's reports on late-filers in both the Senate and House.
The Boston Bruins won hockey's Stanley Cup on Wednesday, but just because the season is over, it doesn't mean the National Hockey League’s work is done. The NHL, which has contracted lobbyist Phillip R. Hochberg for the past eight years, has plenty of politics to play. Since 2003, the NHL has typically spent between $30,000 and $60,000 per year on federal lobbying efforts, with the significant exception of 2005, when the league spent $220,000, hiring Quinn Gillespie & Associates for $180,000, an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics indicates. Communication, copyright and labor issues are frequently political issues of interest for pro hockey, the Center finds.
Now that the political career of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) is nearing the end of its death spiral — he announced his resignation today — New York state will soon face its third special congressional election since last year because of House members' sex scandals. And as the recent special election in New York's 26th District indicated, moneyed outside political groups are all too eager to help determine the outcome.
On Tuesday, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction in the campaign finance case Carey v. Federal Election Commission. The move opens the door for political action committees that are not connected to corporations, unions or trade associations to raise unlimited amounts of money, even if they directly donate money to candidates. The order states that these PACs can use unlimited donations to fund their operating costs as well as political advertisements known as independent expenditures. The ruling, which may be appealed, does not allow unlimited donations to be channeled to candidates in the form of direct donations. Instead, these non-connected PACs will need to maintain segregated accounts for campaign contributions and independent expenditures.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, is the newest member of the Republican's presidential candidate field — and she's also a prolific actor in the world of money in politics. Bachmann raised the most money during the 2010 election cycle, outpacing 434 of her House colleagues. Her dominant $13.5 million haul was much more than House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who was a distant second with nearly $9.8 million in fundraising. She has more than $2.86 million cash on hand in her campaign account as of March 31, according to Center for Responsive Politics research. And Bachmann raised more than $1.7 million during the first quarter of this year — second in the House only to Boehner — with much of that support coming from small-dollar donors.
After courting a political patron in North Carolina, President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Puerto Rico since John F. Kennedy did so in 1961. Residents of the island territory about 1,000 miles south of Miami don't have voting representation in Congress, but that doesn't mean they aren't active in the political process. Puerto Ricans made about $4 million in itemized federal political donations during the 2008 election cycle, with about 70 percent of that sum benefiting Democrats, the Center for Responsive Politics' research indicates.
Associates of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords this weekend posted smiling photos of the severely injured Democratic congresswoman on her Facebook page. From all accounts, her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head has defied expectation. Whether Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, will be able to resume her congressional duties, or even run for higher office as some political watchers speculate she might, largely remains unknown. This much, however, is certain: People are willing to donate money to Giffords' campaign account, regardless of her future political prospects.
FEC Chair Touts Transparency
Cynthia Bauerly, the current chair of the Federal Election Commission, stressed the importance of disclosure in keeping voters informed and democracy strong during a talk last week with the consumer rights group Public Citizen. "Disclosure is a very important part, the bedrock really, of everything that happens in the campaign finance area," Bauerly said at the event.
Can Sarah Palin Use PAC Cash for Seemingly Personal Uses?
Whether kinda-sorta-possible presidential candidate Sarah Palin can use money from her political action committee for personal use is just one of the questions tackled in the latest installment of OpenSecrets.org Mailbag. For the answer to this, and other burning money-in-politics questions, read on.
Numerous Media Outlets Citing OpenSecrets.org's Research, Reporting
Publications and stations that interviewed or quoted OpenSecrets.org staff in recent days include:
- National Public Radio, about Republican groups
- USA Today, on Michele Bachmann
- Politico, on campaign violations
- Rapid City Journal, about lobbying
- Chicago Magazine, on Obama bundlers
June 16, 2011
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