Report: Tea Party-Endorsed Candidates Take Millions in Wall Street Cash

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Will they stand with Wall Street donors or stand with their constituents?

Washington, D.C.—On Tea Party caucus founder Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) introduction of legislation to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, a new report shows that Tea Party-endorsed candidates received at least $11.1 million in campaign cash from the finance, insurance, and real estate sector in the 2010 cycle. Non-incumbent winners received $8.5 million from the sector, according to the report from Public Campaign Action Fund using data coded by the Center for Responsive Politics. With polling that shows 72 percent of Tea Party supporters believing that Congress has not been hard enough on the banks, these new members have to decide if they stand with Wall Street donors or the people that elected them.

“Tea Party-endorsed candidates weren’t elected to serve the banks, they were elected to change the way Washington works,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund. “They now have to decide whether they are representing their constituents or the Wall Street donors who expect a return on their investment.”

These Tea Party members also benefited from $8.3 million in outside spending by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization that vigorously opposed the financial reform legislation last year. One new member, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), even visited the Chamber’s office to thank them for their support.

“Americans across the country are being forced out of their homes due to the fraudulent practices of big banks like Bank of America,” said Reverend Eugene Barnes, Board President of National People's Action, which has led protests against the actions of the nation’s largest banks. “Too many politicians take big bank money and then side with and protect Wall Street financiers and their hefty bonuses. We need politicians in Washington — including the newly-elected ones — to stand with us, not against us, in this fight to fix the economy so that it works for everyday Americans.”

Other key points from the report:

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is the top Tea Party Senate recipient of Wall Street and Chamber assistance, benefitting from $3,401,742 in contributions and outside spending.
  • Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) is the top House recipient, with $667,424 in assistance from Wall Street and the Chamber.
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) worked as a banking lobbyist for seven years, and took $345,105 in campaign cash from the sector and benefitted from $261,735 in Chamber spending.

“Michele Bachmann’s legislation will help the big banks like Bank of America, whose PAC donated to her campaign,” said Donnelly. “But it will hurt families dealing with the foreclosure crisis. The question is whether these new members elected with Tea Party support will represent the banks who supported them with their campaign money, or the people.”

The full report is available at www.campaignmoney.org/reports/teaparty.

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Public Campaign Action Fund works to hold politicians who are against comprehensive campaign finance reform accountable for where they get their political donations. Learn more at www.campaignmoney.org.