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June 19, 2006

Everyone loves Hillary

Poking around in the money reports ...

If the bucks are all that counts in elections these days, learn how to say "President Clinton" again.

Spent some time exploring on opensecrets.org, one of those Web sites that stuffs all the campaign finance reports into a database and reports in about whatever fashion you want to look at it. Among the 50 industries providing the most money in the current election cycle, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was the most favored candidate of 13, from lawyers/law firms at the top to civil servants at the bottom. Five of the industry groups that gave to so generously to her generally prefer Republicans.

All top 50 industries do support both parties, of course. Political ideology doesn't mean much to them.

The oil and gas crowd leans most heavily Republican; 83 percent of their $4.8 mill has gone to the GOP. Top individual recipient is, surprise, Texas Sen. Kay Hutchinson.

Leaning most heavily Democrat are the industrial unions; 97 percent of their $4.1 mil has gone to Democrats. Top individual recipient is West Virginia's Robert Byrd. (Sen. Byrd, incidentally, is now the Senate's longest serving member ever. The 88-year-old, now in his 48th year, last weekend passed former senator Strom Thurmund on the tenure list.)

The securities/investments sector most evenly hedges it's bets. It split it's $12.7 million 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. Most favored individual recipient: Sen. Clinton.

In 17th District


Local factoids: In the 2004 cycle, the two zip codes from which Rep. Lane Evans drew the most money are in Chicago and Stanford, Calif. Six of the top 10 are outside the 17th District. Among in-district zipcodes in the top 10, Rock Island was fourth, Moline sixth, Taylor Ridge seventh and East Moline ninth.

Andrea Zinga's top two zip codes, money-wise, were Moline and Quincy. The top 10 were all within the district. So far in the 2006 race, Moline is her top source of money. Nine of the top 10 zips are in the district; the one that isn't is Bettendorf. Top donor to Zinga so far: Open Secrets says it's The Riverstone Group, but the figure, $5,250, is really the cumulative amount donated by Riverstone employees and officers, not the company.

No info yet from Phil Hare.

And, in Iowa


Bettendorf is the top source of money for Mike Whalen, the Republican candidate in Iowa's lst District. Seventy-six percent of his money comes from Iowa.

Des Moines (out of district) is Democrat Bruce Braley's single best source of support. Just 42 percent of his money is from Iowa. Fifty-eight percent is from out of state.

Interestly enough "business" is the top donor sector for both Whalen and Braley. Within "business," financial/insurance/real estate is Whalen's biggest backer, at $28,539. For Braley, it's lawyers/lobbyists. That sector has handed him $280,693. Wow!

Anyway, exploring opensecrets.org is kind of like eating popcorn. Hard to stop once you start. Try it sometime. May learn something you'd like to know come Election Day.

Posted by jcb at June 19, 2006 09:42 AM

Comments

Until REAL campaign reform is enacted, our political system will remain a corrupt effort of trying to retain a job (by placating donors, rather than constituents).

Posted by: havinfun at June 19, 2006 12:24 PM

havinfun -- What, in your view, is "real" campaign reform?

Posted by: jcb at June 19, 2006 12:41 PM

With the advent of cable and satellite TV and high-end radio it seems that parties wishing to make political advertisements should have a forum designed just for that. An FM radio station plus a free access Television station broadcast on satellite, cable and over the air should be available on an equal time basis that any party wishing to sell their candidate and policies on prime-time or other market slots can voice their cause to the people. This time should be made available at a reasonable cost that would allow the smaller parties to purchase time as well. Each party could put on their own little infomercial and then we all could see if they can really attract an audience. It would have to be handled with reasonably set spending caps to ensure equal time for all involved plus larger parties would have to pick up a bigger share of costs and expenditures. That would eventually change as parties evolved. You could do something similar with periodicals by having funds set apart that would allow mailers being stuffed in newspapers and major magazines. All other ads would have to be terminated. It would be equal time for a larger share of ideas and create a learning curve for new concepts.

Posted by: NoMorePinocchios at June 19, 2006 01:55 PM

jcb,

I am not entirely certain. However, the most recent reform was supposed to make politicians more responsive to the people. I cannot believe that any reasonable person believes that this has occured.

The fact is that politicans pay more attention to the special interests that feed them money - every bit as much, if not more, than they do to their constituents.

Real reform would have to include a very limited limit on dollars raised and spent and possibly a forum in which the political process could take place.

Believe it or not, I do not have all the answers. I know one thing, the system is broken and the people are not getting represented in a manner that is best for the people. The people feel dienfranchised and are ill-informed - consequently, the wheels just keep on spinning.

I'd love to hear some answers.

Posted by: havinfun at June 19, 2006 03:02 PM

After witnessing various attempts at campaign and lobby reform, I've decided that no matter what "reform" is presented, people will find a way around it. The 527s were the answer to the well-meaning but unconstitutional (IMO) McCain-Feingold.

I'm convinced the best thing to do is not restrict anybody from donating money (or anything else) to a campaign in any amount. The only requirement is that reporting be strictly enforced. Also real names must be attached to "Friends of Whoever" and all other TV/radio/internet/print campaign ads. A database would then track donor/amount/voting records, and the information disseminated to non-internet sources for those with no internet access.

Most people think you can make politics more honest by taking the money out, like the idiotic idea of federal financed (that's taxpayers, folks) campaigns. I have my doubts, but you could make politics more honest with more transparency and by correlating donors, amounts, policy positions and voting records, then getting the information to the largest possible audience.

Posted by: paladin at June 19, 2006 03:13 PM


Some great campaign finance reform ideas:

1. Transform the entire system to publically funded, with caps on both length and spending per campaign. That would dramatically increase voter turnout (shorter campaign seasson) and lessed the influence of right and left wing pacs, special interests, etc.

2. Mandate broadcast (TV and radio) time for every federal candidate. That would help the TV and radio stations comply with their public good requirements and ensure that candidates with little or no resources at least get a shot.

3. Agree w/ Paladin, quicker and more transparency on PAC donations and special projects. The SwiftBoat crowd that raked Kerry for his military service is a great example of a group doing an end run. Also a great example of a candidate (Kerry) not standing up for himself, but that's another topic.

Posted by: Values Matter at June 19, 2006 04:40 PM

I've said several times that we should just abandon efforts to limit contributions and let the money flow -- but with strict reporting requirements a key feature of which needs to be timely reporting.

Real-time reporting is far from impossible these days. Every candidate fills in a standardized database form as the money comes in, presses "enter" and the info is instantly available to everyone.

In the meantime, Paladin, Project Vote Smart does a lot of the correlation work to which you refer.
You can find out that Lane Evans supported the NRA position on legislation 0 percent of the time; and the position of the National Library Association 100 percent of the time. Those are merely examples, Project Vote Smart has similar data on hundreds of organizations. It's a great site.

Another useful site is The Institute on Money in State Politics, which has loads of data on who's giving how to much to who at the state level.

There are other organizations doing similar work.

Posted by: jcb at June 19, 2006 09:25 PM

"The fact is that politicans pay more attention to the special interests that feed them money - every bit as much, if not more, than they do to their constituents."

- jcb

What proof do you have to back up your wild claim (beyone an obscure example)? How are you qualified to know who pays attention to who? Do you have x-ray vision? Are you able to read minds? Please advise?

"I've said several times that we should just abandon efforts to limit contributions and let the money flow -- but with strict reporting requirements a key feature of which needs to be timely reporting."

- jcb

In the last sixty days of a political campaign campaign contributions over $500 must be reported within a 24 hour period. Specifically, what would you have a politican do? Report the money before it arrives? Do you really think 24 hours is not fast enough? Please advise.

jbc, if your going to pontificate about reform, why don't you lead by example and reform our negative local newspaper that is in love with pessemism. Why doesn't the D/A give each and every candidate that runs for office $20,000 worth of free advertising? Or how about each and every blog operator be forced to give politicos free reign over blogs for a 30 day period prior to election. Or how about IQ test for voters before they are allowed to vote? Why don't we force voters to come to the politcans house and sit with them for a 4 hour period and talk about the issues?

The point is that this system may have failings, but for the most part government is run by thoughtfull, honest people. Just like your blog.

The simple fact is less money is spent on politics than adverstising Coca-Cola, Sick really!!


Posted by: DOGboy at June 20, 2006 10:18 AM

DOGboy,

I made the original comment about the fact that "politicians pay more attention to the special interests than they do their constituents." You need examples to figure this out?

Ok,
1. Energy policy has not been dealt with since the crisis in the 70's.
2. Healthcare is a trainwreck waiting to happen - a fact that no reasonable person would dispute - however, there has been real effort from our Legislatures...because of many factors, the primary factor is that of special interests.
3. Tort reform has stalled at every effort, even though the vast majority of people agree with its necessity, yet special interests keep this from happening.

Come on DOGboy, you cannot be serious thinking that this is a 'wild claim.' Do you really feel as though our legislature is more concerned about you than special interests (which happen to keep them in office?).

I expect if so, you are in a serious minority.

Posted by: havinfun at June 20, 2006 10:53 AM

Dogboy at 10:18 a.m. -- The first quote you attribute to me was actually contained in a comment by "havinfun". So the claim, "wild" or not, isn't mine.

There's no reason not to require fast reporting of contributions all the time, not just in the last 60 days before an election.

If we're going to force IQ tests on anyone, I'd suggest it should be candidates rather than voters.

I do agree there's a lot of thoughtful and honest people in government, though their influence seems abysmally small at times.

Posted by: jcb at June 20, 2006 11:01 AM

Typo spotted...on healthcare, there has been 'NO' real effort from our Legisltature...

This is so obvious that the clarification likely is not needed!

Posted by: havinfun at June 20, 2006 11:31 AM


JCB,

Why so opposed to campaign finance and spending limits? Don't you think it's an excess of campaign raising and spending that undermines our political system. For instance, whomever wins the 17th CD will spend night and day fundraising for the next go around.

Maybe we need four-year terms in the U.S. House and the Illinois House.

Posted by: Values Matter at June 20, 2006 01:37 PM

Every child in Illinois just got affordable comprehenisve health insuance. What are you talking about? I wonder who the SPECIAL INTEREST is that pushed that bill through.

Fact is you and I are the Special Interest. So are our unions, social clubs, cities and corporations. Special Interest simply represent the interest of the people.

Trying to trick the peeple into the people into thinking the UAW or Chamber of Commerce are Special Interest is crazy talk!

Jcb, sorry about attributing such a stupid qoute to you. I should have know that you have more sense.

Posted by: DOGboy at June 20, 2006 03:10 PM

Values Matter -- I'm not opposed to finance and spending limits, but attempts to impose them have been substantially frustrated by 1) Supreme Court rulings holding against the limits on the grounds they violate the 1st Amendment and 2) the ever inventive ways (soft money, 527 committees etc.) that are found to avoid them.

Visit the FEC site and follow the "law and regulations" links.

The "Federal Campaign Finance Laws" document is 234 pages long and might as well be written in Neptonian. The "commission regulations document" is 518 pages long and isn't much more decipherable. Those are just two of the documents in the "law and regulations" section.

If this morass of loophole-ridden, constitutionally questionable rules are the best we can do, then,throwing open the doors in return for complete and instant reporting may be the best that can he hoped for.

Posted by: jcb at June 20, 2006 03:21 PM

DOGboy, come on, you think that healthcare for every child in the State of illinois is not a special interest effort?

The State is financial disaray, the taxpayer is getting jerked around - and now we get a program (as nice as it sounds) that cannot be paid for (has no funding - actually, has no specifics to it at all) and you think that this is good for the people of Illinois?

I give up.

Posted by: havinfun at June 20, 2006 03:35 PM

DOGbreath,

You forgot to address, (1) national healthcare (and not just giving healthcare to those who do not have it, some by choice, at the taxpayer expense, but dealing with the root cost issues), (2) Energy reform, (3) Tort reform, and how about (4) Education reform - all mired in the quagmire of special interests...

Posted by: havinfun at June 20, 2006 03:54 PM


JCB,

OK, you got me on the federal regulations at the FEC. That's why the FEC is fining every campaign on the planet, including the Lane Evans' campaign a few years back. Check out their website. They're announcing new legal cases and fines every day.

So we have a spiderweb of campaign regulations. I know I sound like Ronald Reagan, but why don't we give some thought to dumping those 800 pages of regulations that have fattened the pockets of election attorneys and have a one-page law on campaign finance.

The one page would outline what a candidate can spend in a campaign cycle, how much individuals and PACs can give in a campaign cycle, and groups like those Swift Boat liars would be deep-sixed. We would also limit campaigns to 6 months in duration.

That's how we rebuild interest in voting.

Posted by: Values Matter at June 20, 2006 03:59 PM

Values Matter, yea, that is exactly what happened to Evans campaign, they just got caught up in too much regulation...

...to much regulation that does not allow one to raise $500,000 illegally,

...too much regulation that does not allow illegal contributions from unions and individuals,

...too much regulation that requires forthright reporting of contributions.

Of course it would not be that the Evans campaign and the machine got caught fixing an election. Just too much darn regulation.

Posted by: Anonymous at June 20, 2006 08:32 PM


Anonymous, you missed my point.

The federal election laws are a spiderweb of overburdensome regulations. John Beydler made the same point. So have many others, including the Chairman of the FEC himself. Of course campaigns are getting fined every day by the FEC. With more than 800 pages of regulations, how can any campaign figure it all out without an army of election attorneys 24-7.

Multiply this throughout the federal government and, well, I begin to sound like Ronald Reagan.
We need to simplify our election code so that involvement in campaigns doesn't require checking with an 800-page election code.

Ditto for the federal tax laws. We need to simplify them as well. Tax law makes lots of attorneys wealthy, but drains national resources.

Posted by: Values Matter at June 20, 2006 11:00 PM

Anonymous 08:32 PM -- Are you truly arguing that campaign finance law doesn't need an overhaul? They clearly do, and not simply because Evans fell afoul of the regs.


BTW, this post from July 2005 has links to the FEC documents in the Evans case, if that has anything to do with this election: Evans, the GOP and 2006....


Posted by: jcb at June 20, 2006 11:18 PM

No, I agree that campaign finance laws need to be overhauled - I agree with this 100%. My statement was just that Evans cheated, every bit as much (likely more) than Delay - Evans issue had nothing to do with 'oversight of FEC vast regulations, but with blatent fraud and stealing an election (which, let's face it, the hand slap certainly was a lot better than losing the election).

Anonymous 8:32

Posted by: Anonymous at June 21, 2006 03:14 PM

As Dogboy has left the discussion, I assume that he must agree that special interests indeed rule the political landscape...(1) National Healthcare (2) Energy (3) Tort Reform (4) Education.

Posted by: havinfun at June 21, 2006 08:30 PM

What is it about bloggers and direct questions? DOGBOY...where are you?

Come on, let's back up opinions with some specific facts.

Posted by: havinfun at June 26, 2006 09:23 PM

Dogboy,

Come on boy...
Here doggy...

Why have you left? It has been a week since you were asked to provides facts to your nice opinion. I guess the old saying is indeed true, opinions and -------- everyone has one.

It is a shame that people can't back opinions up with facts.

Posted by: havinfun at June 28, 2006 11:40 AM

Since Clinton and Obama both just came out touting the need to woo back people who celebrate religion and faith where does that take the Party that has unleashed the attack dogs on those of Christian faith over the last several decades? Can either of the two find someone in the party that can woo the Christian voters in the multitudes they seek? Will they soften their positions on many issues that Christians consider important or will they do as I have heard expressed so far in that they are just rewording the same pitches with Christian happy talk? I do not think happy talk that just pays lip service to issues will get them the voters they are looking for. And what will they do with the ravenous attack dogs that use the Internet and media as a Coliseum for their sacrificial entertainment of the religious faithful. Can or will the rabid in the Party withdraw their fangs when talking on religious points and issues? It is obvious Hillary (who looks like a good candidate) unlike the far left God haters of the party, realizes that advantage and need to draw back the voters lost in the 80ís and 90ís during the Democrat systematic suppression and purge of believers in God. It is evident both her and Obama see the move as crucial to future Presidential elections.

Posted by: NMP at June 28, 2006 09:26 PM

The article in the D/A seemed to be the standard 'trying to appease the Christian vote' but as suggested, it seems difficult to remain faithful to the Democrat base (which is needed to proceed) and appease the faith community.

Let's face it, the Democrat Party (as Lane Evans showed, by his votes) is the party that is for abortion, taking 'under God' out of the Pledge and gay-marriage (not exactly issues that will give a Christian a warm-fuzzy).

It is one thing to talk faith, it is another to govern in a manner that is consistent with faith (and that will bridge the gap that the Democrat Party seems to have with the faith community).

Posted by: Jim Mowen at June 29, 2006 07:45 AM

I am a Democrat of faith, a former Little League coach, heavily involved with my kids' education & lives, who resents the constant attempt by right-wingers to paint us as lacking in faith.
Every Democrat I know in the Quad Cities adheres to his or her faith. Our very politics -- education, health care, environment -- is guided by our faith.

The last thing I need from conservatives is a lecture on faith.

Posted by: Values Matter at June 29, 2006 11:09 AM

Of course, the question becomes...faith in what? I am talking about being a Christian (which means 'Christ-follower). I do not intend on insulting anyone, but I do not understand how one supports the issues that I mentioned (pro-abortion, taking 'under God' out of the pledge and gay marriage) and can reconcile that with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

You use the same old, "education, healthcare, environment, (and you forgot...war, poverty, etc)" as though Conservatives do not believe in those issues. The fact is that conservative believe in these issues every bit as much as liberals, we just disagree on the route in which our government should be involved - and conservatives tend to believe more in empowering the individual to deal with these issues, rather than relying on government to solve all of our problems.

Posted by: Jim Mowen at June 29, 2006 09:30 PM

I am a little disappointed that Dogboy left when confronted with having to back up his opinion with a factual discussion.

Posted by: havinfun at June 30, 2006 09:51 PM


To Jim Mowen ... I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ by my quiet adherence to faith and values and attending church. I don't need that language in the public dialogue, but nor do I oppose that. That's a false issue. Every Sunday and every day of the week you can follow Christ.

Christ believed in tolerance and diversity and so, therefore, the issue of gay marriage or gay unions should not be so earth shattering.

The real issue of faith is that faith guides the actions of both political parties. Better education, better health care, more tolerance and diversity, stopping child abuse, ending poverty -- those are goals tied directly to faith.

Posted by: values matter at July 5, 2006 12:58 PM

Values Matter -

1. Jesus taught many things but nowhere did He teach 'quiet adherence.' He was anything but 'quiet' in what He did.

2. "Christ believed in tolerance and diversity" - He did? Please show me a scripture or two that might lead one to that conclusion (I believe that you will look for a long time). Jesus loved all, as any Christ-follower should do as well, but He did not condone behavior that He found sinful.

3. I have absolutely nothing but agreement with your last statement - every one of the issues that you identify should be addressed by our political leaders (whether they are people of faith or not).

Posted by: Jimj Mowen at July 5, 2006 06:10 PM