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Lobbyists and the Super-Committee

"Washington Lobbyist"

"Washington Lobbyist" by Donkey Hotey on flickr

As the formation of the super-committee or “Super Congress” starts to shape up, political insiders are saying we are going to see the one of the biggest influx of lobbying in American political history. The National Journal reports “the 12 lawmakers on the so-called super committee—and their staffs—will be besieged by K Streeters”. Congressman Ron Paul has called the “Super Congress” a gift to K Street. He also said the end result would be “corruption and special interests.” Politico reports that Democratic lobbyist group Quinn Gillespie & Associates has trying to recruit business interests to use their services for the committee. The top Lobbying groups since 1998 have been Big Pharma, Insurance, Utility companies, Computer Interests, and Big Oil according to the Center of Responsive Politics. About 3/4 of all money spent on lobbying is spent on behalf of businesses, making it obvious where the political tilt of this super-committee will be.

On Tuesday, Harry Reid selected John Kerry (Mass.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Max Baucus (Mont.) to represent Senate Democrats on the committee.

Murray is the leading fundraiser for Senate Democrats. Since 2007, she has spent 16 million dollars to hold her Senate seat. In this time period, Microsoft has given her $200,000 and Boeing (which benefits from many defense contracts) $100,000. She has also taken in nearly $700,000 from lobbyists, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Large individual donors giving to her outnumber small individual donors 2 to 1. The Pharmaceutical Industry has given her leadership PAC over 50,000 dollars. One of Murray’s largest contributors is “Women Issues” groups, and the largest PAC contributions come from Emily’s List, a pro-choice PAC. The PAC is mostly funded by Ellen Malcom, a former IBM executive and a heiress. She worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign.

Some of Baucus’ biggest contributors are Law Firms, Lobbyists, Insurance, Securities and Hedge Funds, and the Health-Care Industry. Pro-Israel donors have given him almost 600,000 dollars. His top contributor for his Senatorial career has been Goldman Sachs. In 2010 he, along with two other Senators, called for a 10 million dollar earmark for a weapons upgrade center. For this cycle, he has raised just $15,000 from small donors, and an eye-popping 5 million dollars from large donors. His top contributor for this cycle is lobbying firm Akin Gump. They spent over 30 million dollars on lobbying last year. They represent corporations like AT&T (which just about every lobbying firm does), Bain Capital (of Mitt Romney fame), American Express, and Chevron.

When John Kerry ran for President in 04, he was out-raised by George W. Bush, but still raised 300 million dollars, nearly six times more than had ever been raised by a Democratic nominee under the public funding program (Obama opted out of the public funding program in 08, as did Bush in his two elections). In his most recent Senatorial cycle, Bain Capital and Comcast are two of the biggest contributors. The top 5 industries contributing to Kerry are Lawyers, Lobbyists, Health-Care, Real Estate, and Hedge Funds. The defense industry has grown drastically in Massachusetts under Kerry because of his ties with the industry.

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