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CREW Study: Financial Services Committe a Plum Gig for Freshman Members of Congress
WASHINGTON - May 26 - Members of Congress only have one thing to sell - influence - and freshmen members of Congress on the House Financial Services Committee have found a buyer willing to pay top dollar.
A new CREW study (PDF) shows freshmen members who sit on Financial Services out-raise their peers by a staggering 55% - and much of that money comes from the very industry the committee is charged with monitoring.
The top four freshmen fundraisers - Reps. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Jim Himes (D-CT), John Adler (D-NJ), and Gary Peters (D-MI) - all serve together on Financial Services. But they're not the only heavyweights: Financial Services members make up six of the top ten freshmen fundraisers and nine of the top sixteen. And the club is not just for Democrats: Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), the top Republican freshman fundraiser, sits on - you guessed it - the House Financial Services Committee.
In the past cycle, freshmen on Financial Services raised (PDF) an average of $1,529,782, which is 55% more than the $982,297 raised by freshmen not on the committee.
But it turns out these members may need this money more than others. Nine of the fifteen freshmen on Financial Services are also on the Cook Report's list of competitive House races. Five of those races are so close that they are considered toss-ups.
To put things in perspective: the only four freshmen on Financial Services who are not among the top 25 freshmen fundraisers hail from "safe" districts.
We do not know from whom all that additional money comes. But, as CREW's analysis (PDF) of PAC fundraising shows, the financial services industry has invested heavily, and disproportionately, in the very freshmen representatives charged with overseeing it.
Freshmen on Financial Services raised (PDF) an average of $140,258 from Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (or FIRE) PACs, compared to just $25,455 by freshmen not on the committee. In other words, freshmen on the committee raised, on average, $114,803, or 451% more from FIRE PACs than other freshmen did. Taking an industry-wide perspective, nearly two-thirds of the total money FIRE PACs gave to freshmen members of Congress went to freshmen with seats on Financial Services, even though they make up only a quarter of the freshman class.
These numbers are significant. FIRE PACs were the top industry sector PAC contributor for 10 of the 14 freshmen serving on Financial Services. Of the forty freshmen not serving on the committee, only one counts FIRE PACs as his top industry sector PAC contributor. But that one member, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), just so happens to be the former chair of the Missouri House Committee on Financial Services.
It's no mystery why the financial services industry would want to invest in freshmen with seats on the Financial Services Committee. The financial services industry is one of the more heavily regulated industries of the American economy. Small changes to the law could mean big changes in corporate bottom lines. With additional regulation pending but still un-passed, and expensive campaigns lurking just over the horizon, it is an opportune moment for industry representatives to shower vulnerable freshmen with campaign cash, paving the way for long and fruitful relationships.
The facts of CREW's study are clear: freshmen members serving on the House Financial Services Committee raise significantly more money than their colleagues. They raise a significant portion of that money from the industries they oversee. And those industries disproportionately invest in them.
With all that money flowing in, it is hard to believe that industry representatives don't have the ears of these key lawmakers whenever they want them. Nevertheless, members of Congress continue to insist that campaign donations have nothing to do with how they legislate.
We simply will continue to not believe them.printer friendly version