Oct. 18, 2006

Public Citizen Reveals Which Congressional Lawmakers Are Most and Least Reliant on Special Interest Money

New Interactive Web Site Lists Sums Taken from Lobbyists, PACs and More

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen today released a report revealing how much money all 535 members of Congress receive from special interest sources. The report, titled Under the Influence, Special Interest Money and Members of Congress, provides data for all 50 states about the amounts of contributions from lobbyists, out-of-state donors, political action committees (PACs) and the percentage of contributions from donors who give $200 or less.

Lawmakers are ranked in each category, from who takes the most amount of each kind of money to who takes the least, as well as who takes the most special interest money in all categories combined. Public Citizen also tallied which states – through their lawmakers – are most and least reliant on special interest funding. The data include contributions from January 1999 to June 2006, except for contributions from lobbyists, which stop at Dec. 31, 2005. Interactive charts, available on the new Web site allow users to click on any of the 50 states to see how beholden individual lawmakers are to special interest money and compare them to other states and members of Congress.  

    The rankings include:

  • Senators With Highest and Lowest Reliance on Special Interest Money

    Highest: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)

   Lowest: Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)

  • Representatives With Highest and Lowest Reliance on Special Interest Money

    Highest: Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

    Lowest: Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa)

  • States with Highest and Lowest Senatorial Dependence on Special Interest Money:

   Highest: Tennessee

    Lowest: Hawaii and Wisconsin

  • States with Highest and Lowest House Dependence on Special Interest Money:

    Highest: Alaska

    Lowest: Vermont

  • Senators With Highest and Lowest Amounts of Contributions from Lobbyists

   Highest: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

    Lowest: Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)

  • Representatives With Highest and Lowest Amounts of Contributions from Lobbyists

   Highest: Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.)

   Lowest: Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa)

  • Senators With Highest and Lowest Amount of Out-of-State Contributions

   Highest: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)

   Lowest: Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)

  • Representatives With Highest and Lowest Amount of Out-of-State Contributions  

   Highest: Rep. Patrick J Kennedy (D-R.I.)

   Lowest: Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa)

  • Senators With Lowest and Highest Percentage of Small Donor Contributions

   Lowest: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)

   Highest: Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.)

  • Representatives With Lowest and Highest Percentage of Small Donor Contributions

   Lowest: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.)

   Highest: Rep. Steven King (R-Iowa)

  • Senators With Highest and Lowest Amount of Money from PACs

    Highest: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)

   Lowest: Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)

  • Representatives With Highest and Lowest Amount of Money from PACs

    Highest: Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)

    Lowest: Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa)

The report found that special interest money is pervasive on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers rely heavily on large PAC and lobbyist contributions, much of it coming from out of state, compared to the amount of small contributions from constituents. (The data include donations from business and labor PACs; a breakdown of each category is available on the Web site.) Public Citizen also shows that most lobbyist money goes to senior, ranking members of Congress or lawmakers who are in their party’s leadership or are committee chairs or subcommittee chairs – especially if they are members of the appropriations committee.  

“The utter dependence of many of the most powerful members of Congress on corporate and lobbyist money shows that the campaign system is in need of a major overhaul,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “The best way to return Congress to the people who elected it is to secure public funding of campaigns. After special interest graft is cut from the system, the country will actually save money. With earmarks and paybacks from the Treasury to lobbyist clients cut back, members of Congress will be able to shift their attention from the money race to fixing the real problems plaguing every day Americans.”

“This information should be in the public domain and easily accessible to every citizen, which is why we created the Web site,” said Laura MacCleery, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Our campaign system is drowning in special interest dollars. The public has a right to know whether members of Congress will answer first to them or to the wealthy benefactors of campaigns.”

To read Claybrook’s statement, click here.

###