GOP freshmen use legislation to repay donors

Nine new Republican House members have used bills to assist donors, Politico reports


Natasha Lennard
April 21, 2011 9:22PM (UTC)

Politico's Jeanne Cummings Thursday morning reports that a number of GOP freshmen are getting the hang of the Washington game: They have already used legislation to "assist donors, protect favored industries or settle scores with their political enemies."

A review by POLITICO shows that the 87 Republican and nine Democratic House newcomers introduced 139 pieces of legislation in their first 100 days, most reflecting broad ideological themes or campaign rallying cries.

But among the piles of paperwork, nine GOP freshmen offered two distinctly different types of legislation: Targeted proposals that would assist major donors or supportive industries or bills that would hurt labor adversaries.

To list a few examples:

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Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., introduced a bill to overturn an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that has broader implications for the mining industry, one of his political patrons -- West Virginia being mining country, after all. The bill would also help a campaign contributor, Arch Coal.

Freshman Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, who received $200,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry, "co-sponsored a measure that would place tight deadlines on the Department of Interior's process for granting offshore oil drilling permits -- and allow some companies denied permits to seek repayment from the government for money spent on buying leasing rights. That could amount to billions for major oil companies. 

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, "introduced a bill that would prevent the Office of Surface Mining from rewriting a Bush administration regulation that allows mining companies to dump debris in intermittent streams, those that fill up in rainy seasons but go dry at other times."

The mining industry was the largest industry donor to Johnson, providing $25,146 to his campaign.

Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., introduced a measure that would block EPA from using tougher clean water guidelines in the mountaintop mining permitting process.

The mining sector was Griffith's top industry supporter, giving $40,450 to his campaign.

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Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, sponsored two bills that would block the administration from creating a registry of greenhouse gas emitters and a catalog of consumer complaints about unsafe products.

These bills were "opposed by Koch Industries, whose employees and PAC gave nearly $80,000 into Pompeo’s campaign."

And perhaps most disturbing: "Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced a measure to deny food stamps to families who have a member on strike. Scott's candidacy was boosted by more than $117,000 in independent ads and mailers aired by Club for Growth, which has staked out staunchly anti-union positions." 


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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