Congressional Campaign Totals

Members of Congress recently filed their quarterly campaign-finance reports, which detail their political fundraising, spending, cash on hand and debts. The Center for Responsive Politics posted the totals for all House and Senate members yesterday. This map shows fundraising totals by state:

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Here’s a per-capita version:

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The interactive version lets you toggle views between fundraising, spending, debt and cash.

A New Debate on Net Neutrality

It just might cost you more to watch “House of Cards.”
Since a federal court ruled last month that the Federal Communications Commission can no longer enforce its policy of network neutrality, Democratic lawmakers have been busy searching for a way to keep the rules in place through new legislation.

But with the telecommunications lobby’s history of fighting hard against earlier such bills, and the possibility that at least one technology company could change its tune on the subject, the current push will face a difficult slog.

Read more.

The Money Against the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage debate is back on Capitol Hill, and the usual suspects – trade groups in industries that hire a lot of low-wage workers – are howling.

Nearly all of the trade groups on a letter attacking a proposed minimum wage increase have extensive Washington ties, pouring millions into congressional campaigns and spending more than $91 million on lobbying last year.

Read more.

Personal Financial Disclosure Analysis: What Took Us So Long?

Now that you know Congress is officially a millionaires’ club, you’re probably wondering: why did it take us so long to get personal financial information on Congress from 2012?Personal finances pioneer and CRP researcher Miriam Diemer explains.

Read more.

Nonprofit’s Exemption Was Granted Despite Record Fine, Political Spending

A dark money group had its “social welfare organization” nonprofit status approved by the IRS last year…despite its multiple campaign finance violations (including a record-breaking fine), massive amounts of political spending, and the fact that it has no volunteers or employees.

Read more.

Image: Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS division on exempt organizations, testifies at a House hearing in March 2014. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Though midterm elections typically have see less campaign spending than presidential election cycles, the 2014 midterms are breaking records in at least one respect. Dark money spending is 4 times higher this cycle than it was at this point in any other cycle – even the 2012 cycle which shattered records, with more than $310 million in spending by groups that don’t disclose their donors. 

As FCC chairman Tom Wheeler prepares to release his proposal for protecting an open Internet, check out his employment history - Wheeler has spun through Washington’s revolving door in a big way, spending years as a telecom lobbyist.

Learn more about Big Telecom’s Washington connections. 

2014 Outside Spending Hits the $100 Million Mark

It’s official. Outside spending groups like super PACs and political nonprofits have spent $100 million so far on the 2014 election – and it’s not even June yet. 

Read more.

A GOP Super Axis

OpenSecrets Blog’s Robert Maguire reports

Yesterday the long-developing ties between two Republican super PACs and Mitt Romney’s campaign grew stronger when the campaign announced that veteran GOP strategist Ed Gillespie would come aboard as a senior adviser. 

Gillespie is a founder of and adviser to American Crossroads, which has stockpiled $26.9 million so far this election cycle, much of which is expected to be spent helping the Republican nominee; it’s increasingly likely that will be Romney. Another Crossroads adviser is Carl Forti, who is also president of the pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many of Romney’s benefactors have also donated to both super PACs. See them in the table above and read the report at OpenSecrets Blog.

Dodd-Frank. “Fat cat” populist rhetoric.  Voters have yet to judge whether these and other actions taken by Barack Obama against Wall Street are enough to sway their decision. But one thing has been clear all along this election cycle: Wall Street has abandoned the president in droves for his re-election. 

(Source: Wall Street Journal, data via

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates the 2012 election will cost $6 billion – a spending record that tops 2008’s total by more than $700 million. That massive price tag got us thinking (again): What else could we buy with $6 billion? 

A few ideas:

  • A brand new house (valued at $118,000) for every resident in Hoboken, NJ. The homes of many residents were devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
  • 165,722 Nissan Leafs (2012 model), or 143,867 H3 Hummers (2010 model). Because Americans enjoy variety, right?
  • 215 seasons of NBA’s most expensive basketball player, Kobe Bryant (at a current, average annual salary of $27.8 million). 

CRP’s political nonprofits researcher Robert Maguire sent a formal request for IRS form 990 from one major dark money group – and this is what he got back in the mail.
Unfortunately, this kind of shape-shifting and rapid change of address isn’t unusual among the “social welfare organizations” we track.

Learn more about the challenges we face tracking the millions of anonymous dollars spent by and amongst these groups.

Americans for Responsible Leadership Entirely Funded by Koch-Linked Group

Americans for Responsible Leadership – one of the political nonprofits involved in a scheme last year that California authorities called political “money laundering” – is almost entirely funded by one Koch-linked group.

Read the latest installment of our “Shadow Money Trail” series.
OpenSecrets Cited in IRS Hearing

“According to the data collected by the website, 501©(4)s spent $254 million in the 2012 election. That’s about equal to the combined spending of the 2012 Democratic and Republican political parties…This was all secret money.”

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) used our numbers on 501©(4) spending in the 2012 election cycle, which you can find on our “Outside Spending” page, in his opening remarks during the Senate Finance Committee IRS hearings. Watch the entire proceedings on C-SPAN.