Part of the Bay Area News Group

Following the money on the auto bailout

By Josh Richman
Monday, December 15th, 2008 at 10:49 am in Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Dennis Cardoza, Ellen Tauscher, General, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren.

House members who voted for the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act last Wednesday averaged a lot more in campaign contributions from the auto industry in the past five years than those who voted against it, according to those wonderful number crunchers at Berkeley-based MAPLight.org.

But the industry’s contributions to most of the Bay Area’s House contingent — most of whom voted for the bailout — fall well below the averages, those statistics also show.

From January 2003 through October 2008, auto manufacturers, auto dealers and labor unions gave an average of $74,100 in campaign contributions to each Representative voting in favor of the auto bailout, compared with an average of $45,015 to each Representative voting against the bailout–65% more money, on average, given to those who voted Yes. The final vote to pass the bill was 237-170, with 26 not voting and one voting “present.” Senate Republicans immediately scuttled the bill, and the White House is now talking about finding money from the already-approved $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to bail out Detroit.

“Big-money interest groups investing in political influence see sky-high returns, while ‘we the people’ foot the bill,” MAPLight.org executive director Daniel Newman said in a news release. “Votes in Congress once again align with the river of money that flows through our broken political system.”

Among House Democrats, the 205 “yes” voters received an average of $74,846 each, about 19% more than those 20 voting “no,” who received an average of $63,140. The 32 House Republicans voting “yes” received an average of $69,323 each, 63% more than the 150 voting “no,” who received an average of $42,598.

In the greater Bay Area, only Pete Stark, D-Fremont, and Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, voted against the bill; Stark’s auto-industry contributions over the past five years totalled $36,500, while Cardoza’s totalled $53,700. As for the rest of the local delegation:

  • Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto — $32,000
  • Mike Honda, D-San Jose — $42,100
  • Barbara Lee, D-Oakland — $46,700
  • Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose — $22,500
  • Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton — $48,500
  • George Miller, D-Martinez — $122,800
  • Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — $127,500
  • Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough — $11,000
  • Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo — $22,050
  • Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma — $70,750
  • No big surprises here. House Speaker Pelosi and Education & Labor Committee Chairman Miller are magnets for contributions from any industry, and McNerney managed to outstrip most of his other peers here because he was a freshman incumbent fighting what was supposed to be a competitive challenge this year. And in all these local cases, most of the money came from unions, not manufacturers.

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