CREW Study: Financial Services Committe a Plum Gig for Freshman Members of Congress

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Peter Bjork // 202.408.5565

CREW Study: Financial Services Committe a Plum Gig for Freshman Members of Congress

WASHINGTON - 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.

Freshmen Members of Congress: Fundraising Trends

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.

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