The 2nd quarter fundraising reports are in for our five members of Congress. As always, there is some insight into what kind of Congressman you have by where they get their money. This report offers that same looking glass into, what I believe, is the mentality of your Congressman. They reveal where the members are getting their money and what person, or in the Democrats’ cases, what group will have the ear of the congressman.
Boswell may well be the worst congressman from Iowa when it comes to fundraising and sticking to your roots. Boswell’s money comes from political action committees as compared to individual donations at a three-to-one ratio. In other words, for every dollar Boswell receives from a voter, he receives three from a special interest group. Hey 3rd District, how’s that for representation?
Braley is only slightly better at raising money from actual voters. He receives almost twice as much money from special interest groups as he does individuals. So when it comes time to vote on health care, who do you think Braley will side with? I’m betting it won’t be little old Grandma Betty concerned about the free market. Also, for you lawyer guys and gals, Braley received the vast majority of his individual contributions from lawyers (mostly out of state). Tort reform? Not under Braley’s watch.
Loebsack is much like Braley in that he receives almost two times the amount of special interest money as he does individual contributions. He raised just over $34,000 from individual donors compared to $53,000 from PACs. This number confirms the suspicions Loebsack is sleeping on the job. He’s considered the absent minded professor for a reason and not raising money in your district, or at least state, qualifies as either lazy or dumb…take your pick.
King raised about the same as he did at this time in the last election cycle with over 80 percent of his donations derived from individuals, not special interest groups. Of those listed on the FEC report, only six donors are out of state – and those came from Dakota Dunes or Omaha, not Washington, DC or Atlanta, Georgia, like our Democrat congressmen.
Latham is still fundraising very well. He raised over $226,000 with an almost even split of individual donations and PAC donations. He currently leads Iowa’s congressman in fundraising and is second in cash on hand.
I’m not sure many people care or understand the way fundraising impacts politics, but they should. Many members of congress are severely swayed by special interest money. Some members, although rare, even make it a rule to not talk to lobbyists unless a check is presented. That’s obviously very bad for public policy but also extremely unethical.
But even with PAC fundraising aside, individual donations are very important. They show support and a strong work ethic by the candidate. This takes fundraising meetings and events with hundreds of individuals per year as well as a strong direct mail campaign. It is also important to know who is giving to what candidate. Braley’s support from lawyers is definitely a sign he won’t back tort reform. Boswell’s union fundraising provides the same insight on labor issues.
With that said, not all money, either individual contributions or PACs, is bad money. There are thousands of Iowans donating to campaigns. From pastors and farmers and doctors to janitors, Iowans show their support in donating to who they believe in. I think it is very telling that Loebsack and Boswell receive so little from individual donations. They are just not in touch with Iowa voters. Loebsack is lucky his district is so blue but Boswell can’t rely on party registration.
Both King and Latham raise a ton from individual contributions. Last election cycle they both raised over $650,000 from individuals and they both were rewarded on election day with wide margins of victory. With strong candidates in the second and third districts, we can expect good results. Hopefully next reporting period I’ll be able to examine Republican FEC reports in all of Iowa’s congressional districts.
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