Campaign finance group says McConnell has cashed in by blocking bills
01/03/2013 10:46 AM
UPDATED: A campaign finance group said Thursday that Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell has seen a windfall of campaign contributions from industries that benefited from McConnell’s filibusters in the Senate.
The Public Campaign Action Fund — a nonprofit group that backs stronger campaign finance regulation — released a report highlighting eight instances from McConnell’s political career in which a vote or a blocked vote coincided with an influx of campaign cash. Download the report here: Cashing_In_On_Obstruction-1.pdf
Most recently, the Public Campaign Action Fund points to a March 29, 2012, debate on a measure that would have ended $24 billion in tax breaks and giveaways to the five largest oil companies in America.
The bill failed when Republicans, led by McConnell, filibustered it, and the bill’s supporters couldn’t find the 60 votes to break the filibuster.
“If Republicans continue to stand up for oil companies making record profits, one thing will be obvious: Republicans care less about bringing down gas prices than about helping big oil companies that don’t need the help,” Sen. President Harry Reid said on the Senate floor at the time, according to news coverage.
On March 26 — the same day that Senate debate began on the Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act — McConnell brought in $131,500 in contributions from oil-related donors in Midland, Texas, the report says.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey, told Herb Jackson of Hackensack, N.J., newspaper The Record that opponents of the bill proved they were “in the pocket of Big Oil.”
Several Kentucky labor union leaders and members of the liberal group Progress Kentucky scheduled a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in downtown Louisville to highlight the report’s findings.
A call to McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, was not immediately returned Thursday morning. But Robert Steurer, spokesman for McConnell in the Senate, called the report “shoddy work” and with tone-deaf timing.
“The fact that this shameless hack-job is peddled on the same week Sen. McConnell is credited by Republicans and Democrats alike for saving the country from falling off the fiscal cliff shows how partisan and out of touch the authors of this garbage really are. The thesis of the shoddy work could be proven false in less than ten minutes by an intern with an iphone,” Steurer said in a statement.
Steurer noted that McConnell has consistently opposed efforts to end tax breaks for energy companies and previously voted against bills aimed at curbing oil subsidies in 2011 and 2008.
McConnell is up for re-election in 2015. Through September, McConnell had raised $10 million and has about $7 million on hand. So far, the only announced opponent is Ed Marksberry, a Democrat and Owensboro contractor who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010.
Over the course of McConnell’s career, he has brought in $1.3 million in contributions from oil and gas interests to his campaign committees and leadership PAC, the Bluegrass Committee.
The report goes on to outline how McConnell has voted to support the companies who donate to his campaign. The report shows the top contributors to McConnell by sector including:
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate: $8,712,881
Manufacturing, Sales & Services: $4,796,563
Lawyers & Lobbyists: $3,195,248
Energy & Natural Resources: $2,917,008
Party Committee: $154,724
Joint Candidate Committees: $11,911
And total contributions by industry:
1. Securities & Investment: $2,463,701
2. Lawyers/Law Firms: $2,007,866
3. Health Professionals: $1,794,191
4. Real Estate: $1,702,792
5. Insurance: $1,669,632
6. Oil & Gas: $1,336,211
7. Lobbyists: $1,187,382
8. Pro-‐Israel: $1,169,435
9. Commercial Banks: $1,073,355
10. Hospitals/Nursing Homes: $954,850
11. Pharma/Health Products: $954,649
12. General Contractors: $836,721
13. Misc Manufact. & Distributing: $812,662
14. Mining: $751,599
15. Misc Finance: $747,984
16. TV/Movies/Music: $694,075
17. Tobacco: $648,969
18. Republican/Conservative: $630,040
19. Business Services: $625,570
20. Electric Utilities: $604,799
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