That's an average of $230,000 each
Posted: 11/18/11 08:47 AM ET
By Aaron Mehta and Bob Biersack, iWatch News
On her website, Rep. Diane Black asks constituents to join advisory panels in her Tennessee district. "I believe the best ideas to solve our nation's problems will come from people like you," Black writes, "not Washington bureaucrats and special interest groups."
Black is one of the new Republicans who rode a wave of anti-Washington sentiment into town in 2011, a self-identified member of the tea party wing that has been cast as a new kind of conservative-- fiery, unwilling to compromise and determined to downsize the government. But while many say Black and her companions have created a split in the Republican Party, it is not visible among the companies and interest groups that are donating to members of Congress.
A joint analysis by iWatch News and the Center for Responsive Politics has found that the 15 freshmen members of the Tea Party Caucus have embraced many of the same special interests that have supported Republicans for years. The fifteen combined have received over $3,450,000 during the first three quarters of this year from almost 700 different PACs.
It's an impressive haul for a group of newly elected House members. But it shouldn't be surprising that these fresh faces found new friends in Washington.
"Business as usual," says Mary Boyle of good-government group Common Cause. "The lobbyists and other traditional Washington powers know that the newbies will learn fast that they need them, and their rolodexes."
Among the biggest PAC donors to the tea party freshmen are familiar Washington faces, including Honeywell International, which led the way both in number of donations and overall money given. The top five corporate PACs that donated to these freshmen:
Honeywell International, a Fortune 100 company best known for its defense manufacturing, made 52 donations worth at least $105,000
The American Bankers Association, one of the major trade associations for the financial sector, made 31 donations worth at least $53,000
Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the country, with 30 donations for at least $28,000
Koch Industries, the company run by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, made 29 donations worth at least $38,000
The National Association of Realtors, a major trade group for real estate agents, with 29 donations worth $34,000
Overall, this group of freshmen representatives has become just as reliant on PAC money as their counterparts who have been in the House longer. The median Tea Party Caucus freshman brought in roughly 44 percent of their money from PACs, 43 percent from large individual donors, and 4 percent from small donors who gave less than $200 each. Comparatively, the median House Republican got 46 percent from PACs, 45 percent from large individuals and 4 percent from small individual donors.
tags: campaign financing