Cashing In On Obstruction: How Mitch McConnell’s Abuse of the Filibuster Benefits His Big Money Donors

January, 2013
(Download the full report)

Executive Summary

Since Republicans lost the majority in 2006 and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) became minority leader in 2007, the United States Senate has seen an unprecedented level of filibustering and obstruction. McConnell has been at the helm of a scorched earth policy of blocking nearly every bill and nominee that comes before the Senate, imposing an anti-democratic super-majority requirement to advance any legislation or appointment. This has meant little to no work on a wide range of lingering problems from anemic job growth to unwarranted giveaways of tax dollars to oil companies to the highest rates of inequality since the Gilded Age. This report links the big trends and donors in McConnell’s enthusiastic fundraising career with his willingness to foment legislative dysfunction, which serves to increase his power and enrich his corporate donors while leaving American families to struggle. The eight cases of obstruction examined in this report span several important policies and highly competent judicial and administrative nominees. These cases are among the many instances where McConnell placed the interests of his big money donors ahead of Kentuckians and everyday families.

Highlights

  • On the very day debate began on a bill to repeal subsidies to Big Oil, an astonishing $131,500 in campaign contributions passed from the hands of oil donors in Midland, Texas into Mitch McConnell’s re-election war chest. Three days later the bill failed by filibuster.
  • Companies that lobbied against bringing jobs back to America and ending tax breaks for offshoring have given McConnell one million dollars to win his elections and look out for their interests. Big McConnell donors such as GE, Microsoft, and Exxon Mobil also have billions in untaxed profits stashed overseas.
  • Despite once supporting transparency, McConnell has led the effort to block the DISCLOSE Act and keep Americans in the dark about the money flowing into elections. Wealthy individuals and companies spending millions in secret money have overwhelmingly helped elect Republicans, an essential step in McConnell’s ambition to become majority leader of the Senate.
  • Sen. McConnell took the unusual step of filibustering a district court nominee, former trial lawyer Jack McConnell, who was vehemently opposed by the insurance industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after Jack McConnell won a multi-billion dollar case against lead paint companies. Sen. McConnell has received $1.7 million from insurance interests, and has taken tens of thousands of dollars from one of the lead paint companies in the case and its parent company.

(Download the full report)