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CREW examines donor influence on committee chairs

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at 5:46 pm in campaign finance, Congress.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

Industry donations to House of Representative committee leaders who regulate them has skyrocketed, according to a new Washington, D.C., campaign finance watchdog analysis.

The report on the top two leaders in 10 House committees includes three California lawmakers: Education and Workforce Committee ranking member George Miller, D-Martinez; Energy and Committee ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles; and Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.

Read the Citizens for Responsiblity and Ethics (CREW) analysis here.

CREW examined contributions made by the related industries to the leaders of 10 House committees in 1998 and 2010 and found a 600 percent increase during that period compared with the overall increase in contributions of 230 percent during the same time period.

“CREW also found that since 2007, many committee leaders voted in agreement with the industries they regulate a majority of the time,” the report reads. “… CREW’s findings raise new questions about how beholden House committee chairmen and ranking members are to the industries they oversee and whether they are independent enough to put public interest ahead of special interests.”

Here is an excerpt of the report’s findings on Miller, which reflect a similar rise in industry-related donations but not a commensurate voting pattern:

“Rep. Miller served as ranking member of the committee from 2001 to 2006 and served as chairman from 2007 to 2010. Over the past seven election cycles, as his seniority on the committee rose, contributions from education and workforce industries to Rep. Miller increased at a rate far outpacing his total contributions. Rep. Miller’s voting history, however, does not reflect the industries’ largess.”

“During the 2002 election cycle – the first election cycle after Rep. Miller assumed a leadership position on the committee – contributions from education and workforce industries to his campaign committee and PAC increased by 38% over the previous cycle, from $145,150 in 2000 to $199,863 in 2002. Total contributions increased by 65% during the same time period, from $417,748 to $687,741.”

“During the 2010 election cycle, education and workforce industries accounted for 30% of the $1,527,308 in total contributions received by Rep. Miller’s campaign committee and PAC.”

“During the 1998 election cycle, education and workforce industries accounted for 18% of the $346,025 in total contributions received by Rep. Miller’s campaign committee.”

“Campaign Contribution highlights from industries regulated by the Committee

  • The education industry regulated by the Education and Workforce Committee donated 90 times more money to Miller during the 2010 election cycle than it did in 1998, increasing contributions from $1,500 to $135,461.
  • The ‘Health Professionals’ industry donated more than five times more money to Rep. Miller during the 2010 election cycle than during the 1998 election cycle, increasing its contributions from $11,501 to $59,500.
  • The ‘Building Trade Unions’ donated nearly six times more money to Rep. Miller during the 2010 election cycle than during the 1998 election cycle, increasing its contributions from $18,000 to $107,650.”

“Votes on Education and Workforce Issues

  • From 2007-2008, Rep. Miller voted on average 88% in agreement with the industries regulated by the Education and Workforce Committee. The average Democrat voted in agreement with the industries 91% of the time.
  • From 2009-2010, Rep. Miller voted on average 82% in agreement with the industries regulated by the Education and Workforce Committee. The average Democrat voted in agreement with the industries 81% of the time.
  • Since January 2011, Rep. Miller has voted on average 77% in agreement with the industries regulated by the Education and Workforce Committee. The average Democrat has voted in agreement with the industries 79% of the time.”

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  • rew

    Congressman Miller has been a great friend to college students. In his capacity as former Chairmen of House Education Committe he got legislation passed that cut student loan interest rates dramatically. Banks had been gouging students on interest rates, Miller got this practice stopped. He also helped pass legislation that expanded opportunities for Pell Grants for many more famlies, which has been extremely helpful to the many displaced workers in this economy, workers that need to be retrained for jobs in other emerging industries. Thanks to Obama and Miller you now also have a $1,000 tax credit now – not a deduction – for students and thier parents that can help defray college expenses as well. George Miller has been a great friend to college students, the parents of college students, and an equally great friend to displaced workers who need retraining. He understands, as do many, dollars invested in higher education – money that improves the skills and knowledge of US workers, pays huge dividends for the US economy in the long run. As a society we need to put people to work, we need to keep people working – higher education is the way to do this. What we have to “sell” in the US is knowledge, that’s the key to the future. In assessing the impact of Miller’s campaign contributions, I think voters should keep in mind the incredible work Miller has done on behalf of college students, he set out to make college more affordable for working famlies – that was one of his goals as a Congressman, and he has delivered.

  • RR senile columnist

    REW , how long have you been on Miller’s payroll? Or, if I ‘m mistaken, how long has Miller been your idol?

  • For Liberty

    #1:
    Miller has increased your dependency in the federal government, like many others similar to yourself, so that you will continue to keep him in office. Be careful that you aren’t forsaking your liberties in exchange of that $1,000 tax credit.

    Mr. Miller, like many others in Congress, need to take lessons from the lost Constitutional principles presented in the following short film:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgXdbtJ13oc&feature=related