House Committee Chairs are Well-Funded by Industry PACs

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House Speaker John Boehner reenacts the swearing in of Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Once a congressman becomes head of a committee, fundraising for his or her next campaign gets easier.

USA Today reports that in the first quarter of 2013, nine new House committee chairmen received over $1.3 million in donations from political action committees representing special interests. That’s a 74 percent increase from what the same congressmen received from PACs during the first three months of the last Congress, two years ago.

USA Today looked at Federal Elections Commission filings for the nine new chairmen — appointed by the Republican leadership — who together collected $2.8 million in campaign contributions during the first quarter of the year. Of that, $1.9 million, or 68 percent, came from PACs.

Of the nine, Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, received the most. USA Today reports:

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., who took over the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in January, has received $302,600 from PACs so far this year, more than five times the $59,100 he collected from such committees during the first three months of 2011. (His father, ex-congressman Bud Shuster, was the committee’s chairman in the late 1990s.)

In all, PAC donations account for more than 60 percent of the campaign money Shuster has reported raising this year. This money comes from all sectors of the nation’s transportation industry — ranging from employees of major airlines and cruise-ship companies to rail companies. Shuster’s panel is scheduled to take up a rail bill this year.

Shuster’s aides did not respond to interview requests.

USA Today also cited Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) the new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who fundraised 71 percent more from PACs during the first quarter of 2013 than the first quarter of 2011. Hensarling’s donors included the American Bankers Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Quicken Loans.

Not surprisingly, the chairmen they replaced saw a decrease in their campaign contributions this quarter. Former chairman of the transportation committee, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) saw his total contributions fall 55 percent, and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), former chair of the Financial Services Committee saw a drop of nearly 45 percent.

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