The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Steve Carpinelli
(202) 481-1225
Randy Barrett
(202) 481-1256

Who Bankrolls Congress?

Investigation Reveals John Boehner’s Campaigns Funded by Tobacco Behemoths, Shipping Companies, and Financial Services Industry


Long before Congressman John Boehner of Ohio rose to his current
position as House Republican Leader, he created the "Thursday Group" - a
weekly discussion around a U.S. Capitol conference room table with
conservative and business lobbyists, including representatives of the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce. So perhaps it's no surprise that Boehner's top career donors include a
lobbyist-turned-tobacco executive, two former CEOs of an insurance
company, the head of a coal company, and a former telecommunications
lobbyist. His PAC supporters are led by corporate political action
committees for two tobacco behemoths, two shipping companies, and four
financial services firms and associations.

These are among the
findings in the third installment of the Center for Public Integrity's Who Bankrolls Congress?
investigation, a comprehensive look at the top donors to Washington's
most powerful lawmakers and their interests - not just recently, but
over the entire course of these politicians' careers. Through analysis
of CQ MoneyLine records on
contributions to Boehner's campaign committee and leadership PAC, the
Center calculated the ten top PAC donors and five top individual
contributors to Boehner.

Today's report
on Boehner notes that his top individual donor is tobacco executive and
lobbyist Bruce A. Gates. Gates was part of Boehner's Thursday Group
and he served as treasurer of Boehner's leadership PAC. For more than a
decade, Gates was a registered lobbyist representing clients included
Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., Eli Lilly & Co., and Reynolds American
Inc., parent of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. Since 2008, Gates has been vice
president of government affairs for Altria Group Inc., the parent
company of Philip Morris USA. Boehner, a chain smoker himself, is a
strong supporter of Big Tobacco.

Boehner's top PAC supporters
include AT&T, the giant futures market CME Group, Bank of
America Corp., Altria Group Inc., and United Parcel Service Inc.

AT&T has
benefited from Boehner's work in Congress. The Ohio Republican was a
strong supporter of immunity for AT&T and other companies that were
sued for aiding the Bush administration's anti-terrorism surveillance.
Boehner blasted Congressional opponents for "leaving companies who
assisted our government after 9/11 exposed to frivolous and costly
lawsuits simply to line the pockets of the Democratic leadership's
trial lawyer allies." With his support, legislation was enacted in 2008
to grant immunity to AT&T and others.

The first two examinations of the four-part series
looked at the ten top PAC contributors and five top individual donors
to Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, and were released earlier this
week. The final story, looking at the donors to House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi, will be posted on the Center's website tomorrow.

Career Patrons Homepage:
Overview Story:



Pelosi: (Link
will be functional June 10, at 7AM (EST))

The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern. The Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy. We are committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world.