Putting Special Interests First

This week, the House will take up legislation that would effectively kill the presidential public financing system, a reform created after the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.The system is broken, we all know that. The answer, though, is not to kill it--but to update it.

House Republicans say it's a cost cutting measure, but according to our research using data from Legistorm.com, the eight original GOP co-sponsors of the legislation have received more in earmarks over 2008-2010 – $601.6 million – than what they claim will be saved – $520 million.

Here are some more pieces of research about the leaders trying to kill this important tool for battling special interest influence:

  • The sponsor, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), was appointed to the Ethics Committee in 2005 in order to protect former House Majority Leader and convicted felon Tom DeLay, and even donated $5,000 to his legal defense.
  • Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), a cosponsor, pushed an amendment last year to exempt car dealers from consumer protections even though he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent from dealers and $280,000 in campaign donations from the automotive industry.
  • Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) was formerly a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, and was called “the king of earmarks” by the Deseret News in Utah for requesting $6.5 billion in project funding, 95 percent of which was connected to political donors, the paper said.

We'll update this list as needed.