Rep. Benishek raked in big cash from out-of-state, wealthy donors in 1st quarter

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Washington, D.C.—Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.) received $89,106 in contributions of $200 or more in the 1st quarter of 2011, 74% of which was from out of state donors, according to Public Campaign Action Fund analysis of data from the Federal Elections Commission.

“Many of these House freshmen blew into Congress promising to change the way Washington works, but as it happens time and time again, Washington changes them,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund.

According to the analysis:

  • Rep. Benishek received $89,106 in total itemized contributions in the 1st quarter.
  • Of that total, 74% was from donations outside the state of Michigan.
  • 89% of these donations, or $79,000, were in amounts of $1,000 or more.
  • A member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Benishek has also benefited from PAC industry donors with business before the committee over the past three months. Major industry donors include Cliffs Natural Resources, Inc. PAC ($5,000), COAL PAC ($1,000), DTE Energy Company PAC ($1,500), Exxon Mobil PAC ($5,000), MINEPAC ($2,000), and XCEL Energy Employee PAC ($2,000).

“Until we change the way campaigns are financed in this country, Rep. Benishek and his colleagues will have to spend too much time raising money from big money donors and too little time focused on their constituents,” said Donnelly. “Rep. Benishek should show he’s ready to truly change Washington by sponsoring the Fair Elections Now Act.”

Sponsored by Rep. John Larson (D-Ill.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.), the Fair Elections Now Act would give candidates the option of running a competitive campaign by collecting small donations of $100 or less from people in their home state. Those donations would then be matched five to one from the Fair Elections fund, paid for by fees on some of our country’s largest government contractors like General Electric. With Fair Elections, candidates can focus on their constituents and the policy-making process—not attending fundraisers or dialing for dollars.

In just a few weeks, the legislation has received bipartisan support of 53 House members and 13 Senators.

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Public Campaign Action Fund is a national nonprofit watchdog group working to improve America’s election laws and to hold elected officials accountable.