A study by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington finds that freshmen members of Congress who serve on the Financial Services Committee raise much more campaign money than their peers — 55 percent more.
And Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota is listed as No. 10 on the list of top freshmen fundraisers — he’s the top Republican — with $1.5 million raised in the 2010 cycle. And Paulsen is a member of the Financial Services Committee.
The study doesn’t show exactly where the money raised came from, but the group notes: “[T]he financial services industry has invested heavily, and disproportionately, in the very freshmen representatives charged with overseeing it.”
The group says: “Freshmen on Financial Services raised an average of $140,258 from Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (or FIRE) PACs, compared to just $25,455 by freshmen not on the committee.”
It’s no mystery why the financial services industry would want to invest in freshmen with seats on the Financial Services Committee. The financial services industry is one of the more heavily regulated industries of the American economy. Small changes to the law could mean big changes in corporate bottom lines. With additional regulation pending but still un-passed, and expensive campaigns lurking just over the horizon, it is an opportune moment for industry representatives to shower vulnerable freshmen with campaign cash, paving the way for long and fruitful relationships.
The facts of CREW’s study are clear: freshmen members serving on the House Financial Services Committee raise significantly more money than their colleagues. They raise a significant portion of that money from the industries they oversee. And those industries disproportionately invest in them.
With all that money flowing in, it is hard to believe that industry representatives don’t have the ears of these key lawmakers whenever they want them. Nevertheless, members of Congress continue to insist that campaign donations have nothing to do with how they legislate.