On a recent flight to New York on American Airlines (I know, I know, I do HATE AA, but they just instituted a direct flight from DSM to LGA), the airline sat me near the Senior Senator from Iowa, Senator Charles (Chuck) Grassley. Ah, Serendipity, my muse!
I had only seen Chuck a few times around town, so I was happy to have a chance to trade a few words with him and question him regarding the Coburn/Obama Federal Spending Database Bill that was up for a vote the prior week. He smiled and answered my questions patiently, which I felt oddly thankful for, even though technically the guy works for me and my neighbors. I really resonate with the 'Government for the people, by the people' thing.
So, in perusing opensecrets.org this morning, which does an excellent job of tracking campaign/PAC contributions to candidates, I decided to take a look and see who was buttering Chuck's bread in the 17 years he has been on the job. Here's what I found:
Overall, he's raised $17,622,099 since 1989 in contributions from companies, political action committees, individuals and such (majority from PACs). To cut to the chase, I looked at the committees that he sits on (5) and calculated campaign contributions to see if there was correlation. Total time elapsed (thanks to the site's great formatting and cut-and-paste), 3 minutes. Results:
Committee: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry- $421,991 or 8% from Agribusiness plus a sweet $1M+ from Health PACs for 10% more. Total 18% or roughly $1,422,000.
Committee: Budget- $369,585 or 7% of total from Energy, plus some small change ($239,833, or 4%) from transportation. I include those here as he is not on the energy committee, nor trans, and this is probably why these contributions are more tokens of appreciation per-se. I still wonder why Florida Power and Light needs to contribute money to an Iowa Senator, or even why over 62% of his total contributions come from 'Out-of-State' organizations.
Committee: Finance (Chair!)-$1,120,029 or 20% of total funding from Financial Services, Insurance, Real Estate PACs/Companies.
Committee: Judiciary- $569,335 or 10% from Lawyers and Lobbyists.
Committee: Joint Committee on Taxation. I think this covers pretty much everyone on the contributor list, be it Communications firms not wanting Internet sales taxes (7%), or even Construction (4%).
I checked his voting record on Project VoteSmart, and there were few surprises. The next task (and future blogpost-fodder) is to correlate beneficiaries of Congressional largess with campaign contributions, if any correlation exists.