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October 26, 2011

Super Committee PACs See Big Third Quarter Gains

By crewstaff

Washington MonumentPACs belonging to members of the “super committee” reported huge fundraising gains in the third quarter of 2011.  Super committee members saw an increase of 62% in PAC contributions compared to the same quarter in 2009. The reason: super committee PACs raised most of their money from lobbyists and other PACs.

As CREW noted previously, combined, the campaign committees of the three Republican House members on the super committee raised more than double the amount they raised in the third quarter of 2009, indicating a super committee position does increase contributions.  Now, the reports for all super committee members and their PACs are out and the results are compelling. 

The House GOP PACs raised more than three times what they raised in the same quarter in 2009, collectively increasing their take from $94,000 to $286,000.  

Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-MI) Trust PAC raised more than seven times what it raised in 2009, increasing its take from $7,500 to $54,500 this year.  Between his PAC and campaign committee, Rep. Upton raised 170% more than he did in 2009, the largest increase of any super committee member.  Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) was right behind him with a 120% increase in PAC contributions, from $81,325 to $178,550, and an overall increase of 163%.  Finally, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) increased his PAC fundraising by nearly 1000%, moving from $5,000 in 2009 to $52,700 this year, though his overall fundraising increased by only 46%. 

Some of this undoubtedly can be attributed to the Republicans’ taking control of the House, but the numbers indicate super committee membership is a factor.  A review of the FEC reports of fellow House GOP committee chairmen who are not on the super committee shows increases in contributions to their PACs, but not to the extent of super committee members.   Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL), and Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) saw their PACs raise 56%, 49%, and 28% more, respectively, from 2009 to 2011, compared to the super committee members who all increased  their PAC fundraising by over 120%.  Additionally, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the former chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, unsurprisingly, saw a 64% decrease in his PAC contributions, which suggests Chairman Upton’s 170% uptick was disproportionately high.   

As for the Senate, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)’s contributions also increased following his super committee appointment.  Sen. Baucus’ Glacier PAC increased its take by 42%, from $77,000 in 2009 to $109,000 this year, and his campaign committee and PAC together increased their fundraising by 16%.  Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) raised $144,250 for his PAC in the third quarter of 2011; he did not have a PAC in 2009.  The PACs belonging to the four other senators on the super committee file their reports on a biannual basis, and their totals will not be available until January 2012.

House Democrat PACs collectively reported a 52% drop in contributions, no doubt due to their newfound minority status.  Although all three House Democrats reported drops in their individual PAC fundraising, CREW noted previously, contributions to Rep. Becerra’s campaign committee increased 11%, and he increased his overall contributions by 4%.

In total, the super committee members’ PACs increased their fundraising from nearly $400,000 in 2009 to nearly $650,000 this year, a 62% increase.  In contrast, the super committee members’ campaign committees decreased the amount they raised by 48%, from a combined $5.3 million in 2009 to $2.8 million this year, largely a result of the decrease in fundraising by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Patty Murray (D-WA) who were running for election in 2010, and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) who has sworn off fundraisers while sitting on the committee.

These latest PAC fundraising reports confirm CREW’s earlier prediction that special interests are willing to pay for access to members of the committee.  Since most of the PAC money came directly from special interests or from lobbyists who represent the special interests, it’s clear that super committee members are continuing to raise money from groups likely to be affected by the committee’s vast mandate

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