A new report called “Funds for Favors” authored by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asserts that heading a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives brings rewards beyond the chance to write important bills.
The group found that as House members grow in power and seniority, the industries they are responsible for regulating steer more and more money into their campaign coffers. Those members typically receive especially big jumps in industry donations during the election cycle immediately before assuming the chairmanship or ranking member position.
CREW’s report highlights Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, ranking minority member for the House Committee on Homeland Security.
CREW Research on Thompson
Joined committee: 2003
Assumed leadership: 2005
Elected to Congress: 1993
Formed PAC: 2005
Rep. Thompson served as ranking member of the committee from 2005 to 2006, during which time he saw a drastic increase in contributions to his campaign and leadership PAC from homeland security industries. Rep. Thompson also served as chairman from 2007 to 2010.
During his time as chairman, Rep. Thompson voted favorably with the industries regulated by the Homeland Security Committee. Over the past seven election cycles, as Rep. Thompson joined the committee and rose in seniority, contributions from homeland security industries to Rep. Thompson increased at a rate outpacing his total contributions.
Campaign Contributions from the Homeland Security Sector
1998 Election Cycle 2010 Election Cycle % Change
Industry Contributions: $64,750 $406,650 528%
Total Contributions: $371,402 $2,034,456 448%
- During the 2006 election cycle – the first election cycle after Rep. Thompson assumed a leadership position on the committee – contributions from homeland security industries to his campaign committee and PAC increased by 186% over the previous cycle, from $97,980 to $279,811. In contrast, total contributions increased by 91% during the same time period, from $756,391 to $1,447,973.
- During the 2010 election cycle, homeland security industries accounted for 20% of the $2,034,456 in total contributions received by Rep. Thompson’s campaign committee and PAC.
- During the 1998 election cycle, homeland security industries accounted for 17% of the $371,402 in total contributions received by Rep. Thompson’s campaign committee.