Posts Tagged ‘Center for Responsive Politics’

McCutcheon v FEC: A New Perspective

Thursday, September 26th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

ORAL ARGUMENTS are set to commence in a mere two weeks for McCutcheon v FEC, a Supreme Court case that could decide the constitutionality of biennial limits on individual donors’ total contributions to candidates, PACs, and parties. LobbyBlog last wrote on the case in March, citing lobbyists’ misgivings towards a future without a contribution ceiling.  One such lobbyist, Tony Podesta, explained how a total contribution cap “is helpful to fend off entreaties from candidates who need more money.”

Now, OpenSecrets is pushing the argument that by abolishing the biennial cap, the Supreme Court would effectively nullify all contribution limits. Bob Biersack, Senior Fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics and contributor to OpenSecrets blog, calls this hypothesis “McCutcheon’s Multiplying Effect.” Currently, donors cannot give more than $74,600 total for each two-year cycle to PACs and parties, and no more than $5,000 each calendar year to a single PAC. Because of the biennial cap, each donor is ultimately limited to the number of PACs to which he or she can contribute. If, therefore, the biennial cap is abolished, so too would this limit.

So how would this negate the force of limits imposed on individual candidate contributions (currently set at $2,600 per election), which aren’t even being considered in the McCutcheon case? Here’s the crux of Biersack’s argument: “One of the first things that would surely happen without overall limits would be a wave of newly created PACs focused on specific candidate’s campaigns…” In other words, candidate X, now limited by the number of income sources from which his campaign depends, would benefit from a potentially infinite number of nominally varied PACs, all of which would transfer some portion of its coffers to him.  Biersack again: “Without [biennial] limits, tens of thousands could become hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands could turn into millions….So much for $2,600 per election.”

So while it’s still possible the Supreme Court could reach beyond the scope of biennial limits and question other limits imposed by the FEC, it’s likely, according to Open Secrets, that it could achieve the same result with far less effort.  The biennial cap seems much like a keystone holding the other limits in place.  Pulling it out sends the whole edifice crumbling down.

Keystone Part Deux

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

KEYSTONE XL IS reemerging as a central environmental issue after the State Department released a Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) last Friday.  Environmentalists are “fuming”  and green groups  “reeling” at the Department’s findings.  According to The Hill:

Opponents of Keystone are furious at State’s environmental assessment of the project, which brushed aside  one of their central arguments against it: namely, that it would exacerbate clime change by expanding the use of oil sands.

It can easily be expected that Keystone advocates and opponents alike will shower more money on the issue as a direct result of the report, the former feeding their momentum and the latter doing all in their power to starve it.  Here are last year’s numbers, from CRP:

Oil and Gas Lobbying in 2012

Royal Dutch Shell $14,480,000
Exxon Mobil $12,970,000
Koch Industries $10,540,000
Chevron Corp $9,550,000
BP $8,590,000


Environmental Lobbying in 2012

Environmental Defense Fund


Nature Conservancy


BlueGreen Alliance


Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund


Defenders of Wildlife



CRP Releases Report Exploring Congress-Lobbyist Ties

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 by Vbhotla

Since the financial reform debate kicked off in 2009, 1,447 former federal employees were hired to lobby Congress and federal agencies. Out of these, at least 73 were former members of Congress, accounting for 47 percent of overall former members who registered to lobby during this period. Their party affiliations are almost equally divided; 35 Democrats and 38 Republicans.

This is according to a report from The Center for Responsive Politics and Public Citizen covering ties between Congress and lobbyists in the financial sector. The report contains data from the past year and spans organizations in the financial services sector, including banks, investment firms, insurance companies, and associations that commissioned former federal employees to lobby in 2009-10.

The report also said 17 of these former members have at one point or the other served on House or Senate banking committees, while 42 of the lobbyists had formerly served in some capacity in the Treasury Department.

The members of Congress currently lobbying on behalf of the financial sector include Steve Bartlett, Rep. (R-Texas), 1983-1992, lobbying for Financial Services Roundtable; Birch Bayh, Sen. (D-Ind.), 1963-1981, lobbying for Beacon Capital Partners and Equity Office Properties; and Dennis Eckart, Rep. (D-Ohio), 1981-1992, lobbying for CP Development Co. Read the full list and report here.