Washington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a new report finding committee chairmen and ranking members in the House of Representatives increasingly rely on the industries they regulate for campaign contributions, amid a shift in industry money away from Democrats and toward Republicans following the change in partisan control of the House after the 2010 elections.
The report, Funds for Favors 2: The Industry Strikes Back, uses federal campaign contribution data provided by MapLight to track industry contributions to the leadership of 10 House committees. During the 2012 election cycle, the industries examined by CREW donated almost $8.3 million to the chairmen and ranking members of the committees that oversee them, up from almost $6.7 million in donations to the same members during the 2010 cycle. In all, 80 percent of the chairmen and ranking members included in the study reported a larger share of campaign contributions from industries overseen by their committees.
“Industry campaign contributions create more than just the appearance of impropriety,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said. “As members of Congress increasingly lean on industries they regulate to get reelected, Americans have greater reason to suspect their leaders serve special interests, not the public interest.”
Some members saw an especially striking surge in industry support between the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. For instance, industry contributions to Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) rose by 66 percent after he took over as Agriculture Committee chairman, accounting for nearly half of his total fundraising. Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) recorded a 74 percent increase in industry contributions between 2010 and 2012, while Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) saw industry contributions rise by 151 percent over the same period.
Although contributions to most Democrats plummeted after the shift in partisan control, several ranking members are nonetheless heavily reliant on contributions from industries they regulate. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the ranking member on the Agriculture Committee, took in more than half of his donations from the agricultural sector in the 2012 cycle. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), the ranking member on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, took in 37 percent of his contributions from regulated industries.
“By currying influence with those in power, industries ensure that the deck is always stacked in their favor,” Sloan continued. “Regardless of which party wields the gavel in Congress, big business is never out of power.”
This is the second edition of CREW’s Funds for Favors report. The first report, released in 2011, analyzed contributions to the chairmen and ranking members of 10 House committees between the 1998 and 2010 election cycles.