Debt 'Supercommittee' Members' Top Political Contributors Scrutinized

Aug 12, 2011

One day after the U.S. debt "supercommittee" was finalized, the largest political donors to Republicans and Democrats on the panel are being scrutinized — after all, lobbyists are widely expected to court the committee's 12 members, to ensure that their interests stay off the chopping block.

The congressional committee faces the task of cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 10 years. And it has until Thanksgiving to figure out where the money will come from. Those seeking to influence the panel's recommendations also see a chance for gains.

"Winners and losers are not just the people who maintain status quo," lobbyist Rich Gold told Politico. "Oddly, there are going to be big winners, and some things are likely to get funding increases."

Using data from opensecrets.org, Reuters assembled a factbox of the top campaign donors to individual legislators on the supercommittee. The figures cited include money from both members' campaign committees and party leadership Political Action Committees.

For instance, looking at the panels' two co-chairs, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) received $243,625 from Microsoft and $202,656 from the pro-choice Emily's List in the 2010 election cycle. In the same period, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) received $57,800 from Goldman Sachs and $33,500 from pawn shops owner Cash America.

For a broader breakdown of support for Democrats and Republicans on the panel by PAC and industry, you can visit The Nation's blog The Notion, which examined donations to the panel's politicians since 1998.

The blog's analysis finds that the top two PACs contributing to Democrats represent labor and health groups, while for Republicans, the top two PACs represent the "finance, insurance and real estate" sector, as well as health groups.

The Nation's analysis of donations by industry finds that Republicans get most of their support from people who mark "retired" on their political donations. In second place are donations from lawyers and law firms.

The same two industries are atop the Democratic side, as well, but in the opposite order.

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