MSNBC Suspends Joe Scarborough Over Political Donations

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MSNBC’s newest suspension victim is former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), the current co-host of the network's “Morning Joe” program. (A recent tweet from his is pictured below.)

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The reason? Scarborough gave eight $500 donations to friends and family members running for state and local political offices without permission from the network, according to Politico.

Scarborough's suspension comes two weeks after MSNBC host Keith Olbermann was suspended without pay for unauthorized political donations, which ran against a company policy of prohibiting journalists from making campaign contributions without receiving prior approval from the network.

Olbermann’s suspension -- originally proclaimed as indefinite -- lasted two days. After the initial announcement, the network faced severe criticism over the move. Today, the network said Scarborough’s suspension will also be two days without pay.

Upon his exile, Olbermann pointed to Scarborough’'s history of contributing financially to politics. Those donations during his employ at the network, MSNBC spokesman Mika Brzezinski told Politico, had been cleared by MSNBC leadership. 

Between 1991 and 2006, the most recent year Scarborough (pictured left) made a federal-level contribution, the Center for Responsive Politics' research shows Scarborough contributed $9,500 to federal candidates. Of that sum, 92 percent benefited Republicans. His only Democratic leaning contributions came during the 1992 election cycle, while he was a lawyer at the Florida law firm of Moore, Hill and Westmoreland.

During the 1992 election cycle, Scarborough gave $500 to Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and $300 to Rep. Earl Hutto (D-Fla.).

Scarborough also contributed an additional $562 to his own 2002 congressional campaign.

The largest beneficiary of Scarborough's generosity was Oregon Republican Derrick Kitts, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) in 2006. Scarborough gave Kitts the legal maximum of $4,200. Scarborough's wife, Susan, also gave Kitts the legal maximum of $4,200, her only known federal-level contributions.

These are the only federal-level contributions Scarborough made while he was an employee of MSNBC. He began hosting "Morning Joe" on the network in 2003.

The first federal-level campaign contribution Joe Scarborough made to the GOP was $1,000 in 1998, while he was still a congressman, to Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.).

During the 2000 election cycle, Scarborough gave $2,000 to unsuccessful Florida Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Gallagher, who dropped out of that race to run for insurance commissioner. 

In 2000, Scarborough further gave $1,000 to Oregon Republican Jeffery Pollock, who ran a failed campaign against Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). He also gave $500 to the Republican Party of Duval County, in Florida.

First elected in 1994, Scarborough raised more than $2 million during his career. In the 2000 cycle alone, he raised $775,000 when he ran unopposed for another term representing Florida’s 1st Congressional District. He resigned his seat on Sept. 5, 2001.

During that time, people and political action committees linked to the health sector were his top funder, giving him more than $235,500. Wall Street interests -- the finance, insurance and real estate sector -- ranked second, at $218,700 in contributions. General business interests, the construction industry, transportation sector sources and legal interests, including lawyers and lobbyists, each gave between about $100,000 and $200,000.

The table below shows which sectors have contributed the most to Scarborough's campaign efforts over his career, and how much came from individuals versus PACs:

SectorTotalPACsIndivs

Health
$235,561
$93,722
$141,839

Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
$218,772
$79,000
$139,772

Misc Business
$200,614
$45,199
$155,415

Construction
$162,238
$20,500
$141,738

Transportation
$124,950
$69,000
$55,950

Lawyers & Lobbyists
$102,439
$26,500
$75,939

Other
$98,153
$0
$98,153

Defense
$93,100
$86,300
$6,800

Ideological/Single-Issue
$87,651
$74,841
$12,810

Communications/Electronics
$86,760
$45,361
$41,399

Agribusiness
$61,575
$45,775
$15,800

Energy & Natural Resources
$48,800
$44,950
$3,850

Labor
$42,050
$42,050
$0

During his career, health professionals ranked as the industry or interest area to donate the most to Scarborough's campaigns. Health professionals, and their associated PACs, gave Scarborough more than $200,000 during his career. 

Coming in second are real estate-linked PACs and employees, who donated about $106,000. 

These interest groups are followed by general contractors, who gave $87,300, lawyers and law firms, who gave $80,600, and retired people, who gave $80,300 to Scarborough over the years.

Here are the top 20 industries and interests to contribute to Scarborough's campaign efforts over his career:

IndustryTotalPACsIndivs

Health Professionals
$200,204
$80,722
$119,482

Real Estate
$105,925
$14,000
$91,925

General Contractors
$87,300
$6,500
$80,800

Lawyers/Law Firms
$80,639
$23,500
$57,139

Retired
$80,283
$0
$80,283

Special Trade Contractors
$44,938
$500
$44,438

Defense Electronics
$44,600
$43,300
$1,300

Commercial Banks
$42,700
$28,000
$14,700

Beer, Wine & Liquor
$41,749
$17,999
$23,750

Air Transport
$38,700
$36,500
$2,200

Railroads
$38,500
$7,500
$31,000

Defense Aerospace
$37,500
$37,500
$0

Electric Utilities
$35,650
$35,200
$450

Lodging/Tourism
$35,000
$500
$34,500

TV/Movies/Music
$34,360
$16,861
$17,499

Automotive
$32,750
$18,000
$14,750

Insurance
$32,250
$21,500
$10,750

Hospitals/Nursing Homes
$28,457
$10,000
$18,457

Food & Beverage
$27,600
$11,000
$16,600

Telephone Utilities
$27,500
$20,500
$7,000

And here is the list of which organizations' PACs and employees contributed the most to Scarborough over the years:

DonorTotalPACsIndivs

United Parcel Service
$28,200
$28,000
$200

Harris Corp
$25,000
$25,000
$0

National Rifle Assn
$23,850
$23,850
$0

Hilton Worldwide
$23,500
$0
$23,500

American Medical Assn
$23,500
$23,500
$0

Rail Management Corp
$21,000
$0
$21,000

Southern Co
$18,400
$18,200
$200

American Assn for Justice
$18,000
$18,000
$0

American Dental Assn
$15,000
$15,000
$0

American Society of Anesthesiologists
$15,000
$15,000
$0

National Auto Dealers Assn
$15,000
$15,000
$0

BellSouth Corp
$14,500
$14,500
$0

National Assn of Realtors
$14,000
$14,000
$0

CSR Zarco
$13,200
$0
$13,200

Lockheed Martin
$13,000
$13,000
$0

Destin Development Co
$11,500
$0
$11,500

Crystal Beach Development
$11,250
$0
$11,250

American Bankers Assn
$10,000
$10,000
$0

Blab TV
$10,000
$0
$10,000

National Beer Wholesalers Assn
$10,000
$10,000
$0

Journalists and news media professionals making political contributions is a rare, but not unheard of, occurrence, as OpenSecrets Blog has previously reported

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