Politics

Money for Votes? Congressional Watchdog Findings

| by OpenSecrets

Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, political action committees within the finance, insurance and real estate sector contributed $276,750 to eight House members at the center of a recently launched ethics probe investigating whether lawmakers received money in exchange for votes, the Center for Responsive Politics has found.

Nearly 40 percent of this sum came during the 10 days leading up to the floor vote on the Democrats' major Wall Street reform bill on Dec. 11, the Center's analysis indicates. The money went to either the candidates' campaign committees or leadership PACs.

According to The Hill, which on Monday broke the story of the probe, the Office of Congressional Ethics is seeking more details about campaign contributions and lobbyists' contributions to eight congressmen that sit either on the House Ways and Means Committee or House Financial Services Committee.

The probe is focused on this 10-day period ahead of the House's floor vote on the measure, which ultimately passed 223-202. The congressional ethics watchdog's preliminary investigation seeks to determine whether lawmakers were influenced by campaign contributions during the debate on Wall Street reform legislation.

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In addition to the contributions from firms' PACs, the Center found that individuals who work within the finance sector also contributed a combined $127,875 to these eight congressmen during November and December. About one-quarter of this amount came during the 10-day window ahead of the vote.

Contributions  Nov. 1 - Dec. 31  
  Dec. 2 - Dec. 11 only  
  % in 10-day window  

From PACs
$276,750
$105,500
38.1%

From Individuals
$127,875
$32,925
25.7%

Total
$404,625
$138,425
34.2%

The members in question are: John Campbell (R-Calif.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Mel Watt (D-N.C.).

No charges have been filed against any of these lawmakers.

Here's a breakdown of how much money from finance sector interests flowed to these eight members during this 10-day period.

Member FIRE Contributions 

Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas)
$30,900

John Campbell (R-Calif.)
$27,300

Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.)
$23,500

Melvin Watt (D-N.C.)
$22,000

Christopher Lee (R-N.Y.)
$11,975

Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.)
$11,250

Tom Price (R-Ga.)
$7,500

Frank Lucas (R-Okla.)
$4,000

PACs and employees from more than 150 financial organizations steered contributions toward these eight members during November and December, the Center found.

PACs and employees associated with 61 financial companies made contributions to these members during the 10-day period ahead of the financial reform vote, the Center found.

Here is a table of the 10 firms that donated the most to these eight members during that 10-day period.

CompanyTotal

PricewaterhouseCoopers
$10,500

Mastercard Inc.
$10,000

KPMG International
$10,000

Allianz
$5,900

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
$5,500

TCW Group
$4,800

Western National Group
$4,800

Accretive LLC
$4,800

Goldman Sachs
$4,500

Zurich Financial Services
$3,500

Of the lawmakers who commented to The Hill, members described the investigation as "routine" and denied any wrongdoing.

All five Republicans named by The Hill voted against the financial regulatory reform measure on the floor in December, and all three Democrats voted to support it.

Center for Responsive Politics Senior Researcher Doug Weber contributed to this report.