The Facts on John Boehner (R-OH)
1. Like Tom DeLay, John Boehner has close ties to K Street
Boehner played a key role in Tom DeLay's vaunted "K Street Project" to encourage lobbying firms to hire Republicans. In fact, beginning soon after the GOP took control of Congress in 1995, Boehner held weekly meetings with about a dozen of the most powerful lobbyists in the speaker's suite in the Capitol. "He was a policy traffic cop for the business community," said a colleague of Boehner's of his role as chairman of the GOP conference. "He ... translated business outreach into votes."1 Across the span of his career, Boehner has raised nearly 95% of his money from business interests.
2. Like Tom DeLay, John Boehner raises money from the industries he regulates
Special interest groups and lobbyists have two paths by which to try to influence John Boehner: his campaign account and his leadership PAC, the Freedom Project.
Boehner chairs the powerful Committee on Education and the Workforce, which has jurisdiction over minimum wage, worker safety and compensation, and employee protections, as well as student loan policy. Boehner also serves as vice chair of the powerful Committee on Agriculture, which has jurisdiction over a broad range of agribusiness including the tobacco industry. From student loans to tobacco, Boehner has favored special interests over the public interest.
Boehner's 10th highest contributor over the span of his career is tobacco giant RJR Nabisco/RJ Reynolds Tobacco. The cigarette manufacturer is also a consistent and generous donor to Boehner's Freedom Project leadership PAC. Some argue that Boehner and other Republican leaders reneged on a promise to introduce legislation in 1998 to prevent children from smoking after they received large contributions from tobacco industry PACs. John Boehner (R-OH) took $10,800 from the tobacco industry during that cycle. At the time, the average contribution from the tobacco industry to Boehner and other members of the Republican leadership was $12,700, over five times more than the average House member's $2,360.2 In 1996, Boehner came under fire for distributing campaign checks from tobacco interests to colleagues on the House floor.
Last year, Rep. Boehner supported legislation that would benefit banks that make student loans and increase payments for millions of students. Between 2003 and 2004, banks and other institutions that provide loans to students donated nearly $60,000 to Boehner and nearly $70,000 to his leadership PAC, the Freedom Project.3
3. Like Tom DeLay, John Boehner Curries Favor with fellow Republicans
Of the $8.7 million he has raised in his congressional career, John Boehner has donated $2.7 million to Republican colleagues and candidates since 1998, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. "Money talks, and John is listened to," said Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) who is himself embroiled in the Abramoff scandal.4
4. Like Tom DeLay, Boehner Likes to Travel on the Dime of Special Interests
A group of Washington lobbyists led by Richard Kessler under the umbrella of the Ripon Educational Fund and the Ripon Society has spent millions of dollars taking lawmakers to European capitals and U.S. resorts, thereby skirting congressional ethics rules that forbid registered lobbyists from paying for congressional travel. John Boehner took two trips costing a total of at least $13,920.5
5. Like Tom DeLay, Boehner has Connections to the Abramoff Scandal
John Boehner received $32,500 in political contributions from Indian tribes represented by fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff, placing him in the top tier of lawmakers who got donations from the lobbyist or his clients. Only 12 other members of Congress raked in more money than Boehner.6
6. Boehner votes with Tom DeLay
John Boehner voted with Tom DeLay 96% of the time between 1991 and 2005.7