Posts Tagged ‘OpenSecrets’

Tim Pawlenty

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With the 2012 presidential race heating up, candidates have begun to boast about their high-profile donors. In particular, Texas millionaire Bob Perry has been a significant contributor to both Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney’s campaigns.  It is not uncommon for big donors to give to multiple campaigns, explains Alexander Burns in his Politico article, but Burns goes on to say “the real test of loyalty here will be who –if any– Perry actually bundles contributions for.”  Bundling is when a large group of fundraisers get together to form their own PAC allowing individuals to funnel more money into an election.

Perry also gave to multiple candidates in the 2008 presidential election. He gave the maximum amount of $2,300 to both Romney and McCain in the Republican primary.  However, Perry is hardly alone in hedging his bets.

Michael Beckel’s OpenSecrets blog shows many donors give to multiple campaigns.  The most interesting discovery from Beckel’s report is that many people cross party lines even when they give a substantial amount to each candidate (talk about hedging your bets).  Perhaps the most surprising of the cross-overs are that two donors gave the maximum amount to Rep. Ron Paul and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Beckel offers a quote from an anonymous Democratic campaign operative to explain the multiple donations. The operative said “donations like these are about access. At that level of contribution, you probably get to meet the candidate and have a conversation with them.”

Perry seems to be all about access and creating chances to be in the “winner’s circle” as Larry Sabato describes.  Perry has been a influential person not only in Texas politics but also national politics. He has donated millions of dollars to 527 groups or PACs,  such as Karl Rove’s PAC American Crossroads, Tom Delay’s TRMPAC and ARMPAC (both instrumental in Tom Delay’s criminal conviction) and the highly controversial group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.  It appears the 2012 election cycle will be no different for Perry who will continue to use his large amounts of money for access and influence.

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Public disclosure forms released Wednesday show that Texas lawmakers have widely varying financial situations.  In an OpenSecrets blog post, Tarini Parti breaks down how many members of Congress invest in media organizations.  Parti explains that this could be a conflict of interest because many members have a “vested interest…in the performance of the same organizations that are supposed to be their watchdogs”.

Of the 60 lawmakers that have media organizations investments, 6 of them come from Texas.  They are Congressmen Michael McCaul (R-TX26), Kenny Marchant (R-TX24), Michael Burgess (R-TX10), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX25), William Flores (R-TX17) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX27).

          From left to right: Congressmen Bill Flores, Blake Farenthold, Kenny Merchant, Michael Burgess, Lloyd Doggett, and Michael McCaul.

The largest investor in media organizations from the Lone Star State is Rep. Michael McCaul with anywhere from $179,018 to $505,000 invested in companies like Comcast Corp., Walt Disney Co. and CBS Corp. The disclosure reports only require members of Congress to list their assets and debts in broad ranges.

Disclosure reports also show that not all members of Congress from Texas are wealthy enough to invest in media organizations however. A Washington Post article points out that many Republican freshman lawmakers who campaigned on reducing the federal debt are in substantial debt themselves.  One such freshman lawmaker is Congressman Farenthold.  The disclosure reports show that the Congressman could have anywhere between $45,000 and $150,000 in credit card debt.  However, Flarenthold does list that he has anywhere from $2,002 to $30,000 in personal media investments in the Walt Disney Co.

The public disclosure reports that came out this week provide the public with a better understanding of how lawmakers chose to spend their money. The reports show that some lawmakers have chosen to invest in companies that are supposed to report in a fair and unbiased manner on campaign issues and congressional ethics. The documents show yet another example of why disclosure laws are important. The public has a right to know how lawmakers spend their own money so they can trust them with their tax dollars.

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