November 16, 2011

House Committee Leaders Rake in the Campaign Cash from the Industries They Regulate

Congress, Ethics, Congressional Ethics, Governance & Legislation, Press Releases, House Members, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Fred Upton, Henry Waxman, James Clyburn, John Conyers , Nick Rahall, Spencer Bachus

Washington, D.C. – Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report today showing the chairs and ranking members of many House committees amass significant campaign contributions from the industries they monitor and regulate. These lawmakers also vote in support of their industry benefactors with alarming regularity. Click here to read CREW’s report, Funds for Favors: Exposing Donors’ Influence on Committee Leaders.  

“Almost across the board, industries and interest groups are engaging in what amounts to legalized bribery by funneling enormous amounts of money to the very lawmakers who are supposed to be holding their feet to the fire,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “Congress would be a lot more transparent if it just put a for sale sign on the front of the Capitol.”

With a few exceptions, CREW’s findings held true across industries, committees, and party affiliation, illustrating just how deeply the pay-to-play culture has penetrated the House of Representatives.  For instance, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), chairman of the Financial Services committee, has experienced a 620% increase in donations from the financial services industries since 1998.  On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the ranking member of the Agriculture Committee has seen his donations from agriculture industries soar by 711% since 1998.  That dwarfs the rate of growth of their total contributions, which grew by 234% and 274% over the same period, respectively. 

“CREW’s research shows that members of Congress rarely, if ever bite the hands that feed them,” said Ms. Sloan.  “Legislators routinely and indignantly insist campaign donations do not influence their votes.  Funds for Favors demonstrates why no one believes them.”

CREW’s report relies on contribution data tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics, which identifies and categorizes individual contributions based on industry.  CREW used voting data provided by, which tracks congressional voting data and uses public records to categorize which interest groups, companies, and organizations support and oppose legislation. 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202.408.5565 or