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owns congress


Who Owns Your Congressman?

Politics is big business, with millions spent each year trying to sway the electoral process. Which industries, businesses and outside interests have donated the most to which candidates?

How Much Money Are We Talking About?

In short, lots. Here’s a look at what candidates in 2013-2014 have raised for this election cycle:
Total $289,091,174*
Democrats $125,189,570
Republicans $163,856,570

Total $152,410,147*
Democrats $81,976,934
Republicans $70,387,430
* Independents not included in party breakdowns
Their combined fundraising is $441,501,321. That’s enough to …
… pay the average heating bills of every resident of the District of Columbia
… pay the average co-pays for 22 million doctor visits
… pay the average grocery bill for 400,000 four-person families
Following the Money

Where does all this cash come from? Here’s a look at which industries have given the most to which parties:
Industry Amount D R
Retired $38,883,345 47% 46%
Securities & investment $32,988,928 31% 55%
Lawyers& law firms $24,522,332 68% 28%
Real estate $18,005,439 41% 53%
Health professionals $16,335,505 39% 55%
Candidate committees $16,214,155 45% 55%
Insurance $11,989,733 38% 62%
Leadership PACs $11,491,828 43% 57%
Oil & gas $9,895,507 12% 86%
Business services $8,482,996 48% 44%
TV/movies/music $8,374,264 63% 34%
Lobbyists $8,016,021 49% 50%
Pharmaceutical/health $7,875,015 40% 60%
Public sector unions $7,647,169 52% 5%
Manufacturing/distribution $7,298,056 30% 68%
Building trade unions $6,976,125 57% 11%
Commercial banks $6,887,181 30% 70%
Computers/Internet $6,821,386 53% 36%
Electric utilities $6,631,879 36% 64%

Here’s a look at the 20 businesses and organizations that contributed the most for lobbying efforts in 2013:
Business/organization Lobbying total
U.S. Chamber of Commerce $51,955,000
National Assn. of Realtors $25,943,435
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $17,076,780
American Hospital Assn. $14,106,478
Comcast Corp. $13,950,000
General Electric $13,840,000
Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America $13,802,500
American Medical Assn. $13,775,000
National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. $13,270,000
Northrop Grumman $13,200,000
AT&T Inc. $12,300,000
Boeing Co. $11,460,000
Google Inc. $11,460,000
Lockheed Martin $11,117,466
National Assn. of Broadcasters $10,650,000
Exxon Mobil $10,630,000
Verizon Communications $10,143,000
United Technologies $9,980,373
American Chemistry Council $9,490,000
Grocery Manufacturers Assn. $9,350,000
Where It Goes

Here’s a look at some of the Congressional candidates who’ve raised the most money:

John Boehner, R-Ohio
Total: $9,074,336

Top contributing industries (donations to campaign committee, 2013-2014)
Industry Total Individuals PACs
Retired $496,367 $496,367 $0
Securities & investment $441,355 $381,355 $60,000
Oil & gas $249,189 $164,189 $85,000
Real estate $200,600 $188,600 $12,000
Electric utilities $164,000 $75,500 $88,500

Frank Pallone, D-N.J.
Total: $3,831,722
Top contributing industries (donations to campaign committee, 2013-2014)
Industry Total Individuals PACs
Health professionals $249,550 $35,050 $214,500
Pharmaceuticals & health products $84,000 $6,500 $77,500
Lawyers & law firms $66,750 $45,250 $21,500
Lobbyists $42,550 $40,550 $2,000
TV/movies/music $40,800 $15,450 $25,350

Cory Booker, D-N.J.
Total: $12,867,688

Top contributing industries (donations to campaign committee, 2009-2014)
Industry Total Individuals PACs
Securities & investment $1,197,642 $1,197,642 $0
Lawyers & law firms $1,027,702 $976,207 $51,495
Real estate $476,450 $471,450 $5,000
TV/movies/music $366,780 $359,180 $7,600
Miscellaneous finance $260,250 $260,250 $0

Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Total: $17,246,609

Top contributing industries (donations to campaign committee, 2009-2014)
Industry Total Individuals PACs
Securities & investment $1,129,038 $883,538 $245,500
Insurance $760,525 $311,025 $449,500
Health professionals $649,025 $413,525 $235,500
Retired $644,157 $644,157 $0
Oil & gas $621,258 $367,259 $253,999
Worth the Money?

With more than $400 million spent in this election cycle on Congressional races, is this a wise investment? Maybe not, when you consider the lack of action lately in Congress.
Substantive public laws passed
2013 44
2007 120
Average 1999-2012 70

Category: Digital Media, Politics

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

28 Responses to “Who Owns Congress?”

  1. AtlasRocked says:

    Now, do an article on how much money the government gave the citizens, and who bought their vote.

    Citizens got well over a trillion dollars from the congressmen, so they got 3,000 times more coersive money and benefits than congressmen did, so it seems like that money should buy their votes too, if the premise here is that congressmen’s votes are highly coerced or bought by receiving money, right?

    • pmorrisonfl says:

      300,000,000 US population /535 house/senate members = 560748 people per Congressperson. So you need to spread that 3000 times over 560748 times as many people, ~.006. In other words, 200 times as much is spent trying to influence Congress as Congress spends on US citizens.

    • Frilton Miedman says:

      Holy crap, you’ve outdone yourself …You’re saying elected officials “buy votes” by acting in the interest of voters.

  2. ironman says:

    Funny – they forgot to include labor unions as the second largest organization their list of the 20 businesses and organizations that contributed the most for lobbying efforts in 2013. Don’t you hate it when the misses accounting for $34.8 million dollars?

    • ottnott says:

      Why would a piece on donations include spending on lobbying?

      And why would you lump all labor unions together, but not all employer groups?

      • ottnott says:

        Sorry, my first sentence was a stupid error.

        The second stands – why should all employee groups be treated as one when all employer groups are not?

      • willid3 says:

        probably because the numbers would look pitiful? consider that the big unions (an oxymoron if ever) dont exactly represent members who make a lot? so even taken together, they dont represent much any more. and even the ones who have some more reasonable income, dont have very large numbers of members any more.

    • Angryman1 says:

      lol, that 34.8 “million” is chunk change when compared to the total which represents business interests as a whole.

    • alonzo says:

      Don’t quite get your drift ironman. Do you mean to total all union contributions and compare that to the total of all business contributions? I wonder how that would work out.

      • willid3 says:

        well it wouldnt take long to add up the top 20 business contributors would it? and just a rough guess its at least 200 million or more isnt it? so comparing a total of 38 million to 200 million seems rather obvious who puts more money into huh?

    • theexpertisin says:

      ironman -

      The template is to excoriate Big Business, not to expose unions and other cabals of the left. The article succeeds in this respect.

  3. ottnott says:

    Donations reported to the FEC are only part of the story, with the growth of spending by tax-deductible “social-welfare” 501(c)(4) groups that act essentially as Political Action Committees while allowing donors anonymity and a tax deduction for their political advocacy.

    Estimated 501(c)(4) spending on the 2012 races was $300 million. There’s good reason to expect that they will grow exponentially for 2014 and 2016 races unless the tax code is changed.

    Corps. and trade groups will still want to make reported donations, so that the elected officials know exactly where the money came from, but tax deductions and anonymity will be irresistible to large donors who want a front for their spending.

    Shamefully, the SEC doesn’t require corporations to inform shareholders when management uses shareholder money for political donations. There was pressure on the SEC to change this, but the SEC’s plans for 2014 don’t include any action to require disclosure.

  4. Bob Fauteux says:

    Couldn’t agree more with ironman. No UAW or SEIU donations—come on, please! And some of the other numbers simply don’t add up either. This infographic is not close to being authoritative. But it does reinforce the indisputable truth that our elected officials are bought and paid for, and not primarily by the majority of their constituents.

    • baldski says:

      Dear Bob: Union lobbying is a pittance compared to Corporations and every union member has to give his approval for his dollars to be spent. Now does every shareholder have to approve the contribution from a corporation? I think not, why not?

    • Yes, its the Unions that own Congress, push most legislation through, and Coopt COngress. Tehy are so powerful, how can we stop them?!


  5. willid3 says:

    well considering how small the unions are today. and where the money is, why would the unions be able to even come close to off setting corporate spending?

    i wonder why we allow any of them to take off their taxes their lobbying of our government or contributions to campaigns unless they report it? maybe its the because politicians dont want to bother masters?

    • Greg0658 says:

      ya nearly said it .. union donations are after taxes and bills paid to the corporations .. corporation donations are from union and non-union made laborers assisted profits, before taxes and expensed from profits

      working man pays for both sides .. the question tho, is it “worth the money ?” .. I’d say it is, whos winning whos loose’g ? and maybe “no action is action” .. I think that’s in a Rush(band) song

  6. willid3 says:

    now the real question.

    has this really changed?

    consider that back before the great depression you probably would have seen an even more beholden set of politicians than now. we just really had no way to know that at the time. cause nobody was looking.

    and i wonder if the good that politicians have done (on occasion. very rare though) haven’t been more accidental than any thing else?

  7. Moss says:

    It certainly isn’t the voter/citizen. It is any wonder why many feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. Rule of the minority.

  8. alonzo says:

    Ignoring for a moment who’s the worst offender, there is some serious work gong on regarding getting money out of politics. Lawrence Lessing’s organization – Rootstrikers – for one. The more publicity on the issue, the better.

  9. 873450 says:

    Who Owns Congress?

    Grover Norquist

    All but six GOP House members and seven GOP senators swore an oath to Grover vowing to shrink government down to a size enabling him to drown it in a bathtub. Their pledge to serve Grover supersedes their pledge to serve the American people. The only reason any GOP member of Congress voted for a 2012 tax bill that did not extend a Bush tax cut for 1% was a public statement from Grover giving them a pass.

    Gover Norquist’s Group Says Boehner’s Plan That Would Let Taxes Rise On Millionaires Is Cool By Them

  10. rwboomtown says:

    Simplify laws and regulations to allow smaller entities to compete. This leads to innovation. The government should also come very close to ignoring all self employed and small businesses that make less than 200k a year. The elite in government and corporations have a vested interest in making everything as complicated as possible, this guts competition and entrenches their power.

  11. Frilton Miedman says:

    It’s a sign of the times when becomes a website for sector evaluation.

  12. farmera1 says:

    And why is this surprising. The Supreme’s have spoken: Money equals free speech. It is no longer people that count it is money. As long as the supreme court keeps ruling in favor of money and against finance laws limiting contributions, money is it. Single voters without money do not matter much.

  13. BuildingCom says:

    National Association Of Stealtors is tops the list at #2.

    Imagine that.

  14. formerlawyer says:

    Union funding totalled $24,911,797 in the last election cycle or approximately 5.6% of moneys to Congress.

  15. ERISANation says:

    They list “building trades unions” and “public sector” unions. Not sure why they wouldn’t aggregate all unions besides these two group. These are big contributors, but do they dwarf all other unions.

    I am glad to see seniors paying more than their fair share – but then maintaining a third rail is costly.