Washington Matters


Who's Buying Your Congressman?



The amount of money poured into campaigns these days is so massive that the numbers are nearly meaningless. But here's one that might shake up even the most jaded among us: Only 13 House members -- that's 13 out of 435, not 13% -- raised most of their campaign re-election funds from within their district in the last Congress. In other words, 422 House members, 97%, raised more than half their campaign funds from people other than those they represent.

Who do you think they are listening to?

 

This and plenty of other alarming fund-raising figures, which were reported by American Public Media radio show Marketplace, was compiled by the nonprofit, nonpartisan campaign finance research group MAPLight.org by looking at the finances of members serving in the House from January 2005 until December 2007.

And if you are wondering who most House members might listen to -- and most of us probably agree that large campaign contributors are likely to get the ear of their investments -- will it surprise you that Washington was among the top five states and the District of Columbia as campaign contribution sources for 99% of House members? Or that of the top 20 Zip codes contributing to House members, 15 were in the Washington area? In other words, most of the money is coming from lobbyists, corporations and special interests and political professionals and activists, not from rank-and-file voters. It makes you wonder why polls generally show that constituents are satisfied with their members or that the seats of the vast majority of House incumbents are safe.



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