Skip banner
HomeSourcesHow Do I?Site MapHelp
Return To Search FormFOCUS
Search Terms: "Patients Bill of Rights"

Document ListExpanded ListKWICFULL format currently displayed

Previous Document Document 35 of 85. Next Document

Copyright 2000 The National Journal, Inc.  
The National Journal

June 3, 2000

SECTION: CAMPAIGN FINANCE; Pg. 1764; Vol. 32, No. 23

LENGTH: 1561 words

HEADLINE: For Friends in Need, Business Money Indeed

BYLINE: Louis Jacobson


During the current election cycle, Republicans have received 64
percent of the $ 75 million that business and trade association
political action committees have contributed to House and Senate
candidates, according to data compiled for National Journal by
the Center for Responsive Politics.

     The Democrats have collected only 36 percent of business
PAC dollars, but that amount is up slightly from the 34 percent
they received during the 1997-98 cycle and the 30 percent they
received in 1995-96, after Republicans had taken control of
Congress. The numbers are based on PAC donations reported to the
Federal Election Commission through May 1. PAC contributions from
labor unions and single-issue or ideological groups were not
included in the survey.

     National Journal examined the 125 biggest business PACs
based on their receipts and found that 103 have distributed more
than $ 100,000 in the 1999-2000 cycle, according to data obtained
from fecinfo. Of those, nine have increased the share of their
contributions going to Democrats by at least 10 percentage
points, while only one has raised its giving to Republicans by
that percentage. Many PACs, however, that boosted their share of
contributions to Democrats had given a small percentage in
previous cycles. Of course, the numbers could change after the
final PAC dollar is tallied this fall.      The improvement in the Democrats' fortunes reflects their
five-seat pickup in the House two years ago and the possibility
that they could regain control of that chamber in November, PAC
directors said.

     The shift in the Democrats' direction is hardly trivial,
they added. In some cases, business is paying protection money to
the Democrats. "There is a very prevalent view in the business
community that if you give to the Democrats, they won't screw you
as badly," especially if they win in November, said a GOP
lobbyist, echoing the comments of several others. But the
Republicans, he said, are "apoplectic" about any shift in
campaign contributions. "They say, 'Stop hedging, because we're
keeping track.' "

     Earlier this year, the GOP publicly recognized and
thanked companies and trade groups that contributed at least 75
percent of their PAC money to the Republicans.

     The biggest winners, lobbyists say, may be the pro-
business moderates in both parties. "Many folks believe that
regardless of which party controls the House, governance from the
middle will be the rule of the day in the next Congress," said
William J. Birkhofer, the vice president for government relations
with the Jacobs Engineering Group. "So groups like the Blue Dogs,
the New Democrats, and the moderate Republicans are getting a lot
of the attention."

     Consider the National Association of Home Builders, which
has given 39 percent of its donations to Democrats this cycle,
compared with 29 percent the previous cycle. The trade group has
given money to 53 centrist Democrats. "We haven't altered our
philosophy," said NAHB lobbyist Jerry Howard. "But it seems that
more members of the Democratic Party have become pro-business."

     The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's PAC intends to give some
money to pro-business Democrats this fall. It has already
endorsed seven House Democrats-Leonard L. Boswell of Iowa, Bud
Cramer Jr. of Alabama, Calvin Dooley and Ellen Tauscher of
California, Tim Roemer of Indiana, Max Sandlin of Texas, and John
S. Tanner of Tennessee-who face competitive races this fall. When
Thomas J. Donohue took over as chamber president two years ago,
said spokesman Frank Coleman, "he made a commitment to support
candidates, and especially members of Congress, who consistently
supported business, regardless of party."

     According to Coleman, "The chamber supports Democrats,
not in anticipation of the party taking over Congress, but
because some of them have begun to vote more pro-business than in
the past."

     Despite the Democrats' gains, Republicans still have
plenty of reason to cheer. The Association of Trial Lawyers of
America is the only one of the top 125 business, professional,
and trade group PACs that leans heavily Democratic. The lawyers'
PAC has given approximately 84 percent of its money to Democrats
this cycle. Of the PACs that have doled out at least $ 100,000
this cycle, the American Optometric Association, the American
Podiatric Medical Association, and MCI WorldCom are the only
others that have given at least 50 percent of their money to

     On the other hand, 10 business PACs have given more than
82 percent of their money to GOP candidates. One lobbyist credits
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., for reassuring the
business community following the tumultuous tenure of former
Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. "Since Denny has taken office," the
lobbyist said, "he has created a more stable environment for the
House conference and eased concerns in the PAC community about
the Republicans' holding on to control in the House, even if it's
a small majority."

     The big losers so far are challengers in both parties.
Public contentment has made business and trade groups less likely
to wager their money on weak challengers, lobbyists said. That's
true even when the incumbent is a Democrat with a so-so voting
record on key business issues.

     Bernadette Budde, the senior vice president for the
Business-Industry Political Action Committee, noted that the PAC
community "can't afford to be romantically sentimental. We have
to help people who have a good chance of winning."

     Veteran GOP lobbyist David K. Rehr, the president of the
National Beer Wholesalers Association, cautioned challengers
about relying too much on Washington PACs for campaign money.
"We've put the word out to challengers that they've got to have a
lot of money already or else we won't give them any," he said "It
used to be that you got PAC money first and then went out to
raise more in your district. But we and other groups got burned
with that theory during the last cycle. Now we tell people if
they want to raise $ 1 million, they'll have to raise $ 500,000
before getting any PAC money."

     It is a different story for candidates seeking an open
seat. About 33 percent of BIPAC's money has gone to primary
candidates running for open seats. In the 1997-98 cycle, only 10
percent of its contributions went to primary candidates, Budde
said. "We predict that in 2002, it will be the primaries that
determine functional control of Congress," she added.

     The most staunchly Republican PACs include a cross
section of industries-banking, construction, insurance, and
retail-that have long been the financial backbone of the party.

     Meanwhile, business or professional groups looking for
legislative help from the Democrats are returning the favor with
PAC contributions. Health care groups, such as the American
Optometric Association, the American Podiatric Medical
Association, the American Association of Nurse-Anesthetists, and
the American Academy of Ophthalmology, are among the most pro-
Democratic business PACs. Several of these groups support
increased Medicare reimbursements and the patients' bill of
legislation. Both measures have strong Democratic support
on Capitol Hill.

     Also, the American Medical Association, for years a loyal
financial supporter of the GOP, has boosted its share of
donations to Democrats from 28 percent in 1997-98 to roughly 44
percent this cycle. The doctors' group supports the patients'
bill of rights
legislation that would impose new restrictions on
health insurance companies.

     Technology and telecommunications companies, including
AT&T Corp., MCI WorldCom, and Microsoft Corp., are also
increasing their percentage of contributions to Democrats. "We
have found that on issues of importance to us-from encryption or
privacy to H1-B visas-leaders on both sides of the aisle have
helped us,"said Microsoft spokesman Rick Miller. "You will find
that to be much the same for the entire high-tech industry."

     Meanwhile, drug companies are increasing their share of
contributions to Republicans. Of the 10 PACs that have boosted
their share of giving to Republicans by the biggest percentage
this year, three are pharmaceutical companies: Eli Lilly and Co.,
Merck & Co., and Pfizer. Those companies are fighting Democratic
efforts to provide a prescription drug benefit under Medicare.

     For some business PACs, evenhandedness is the better part
of valor. Jacobs Engineering, for instance, has shifted several
percentage points in the GOP's direction this year, but at
roughly 50-50, it still ranks among the PACs most favorable to
Democrats. "I think if we had a ratio of two-thirds to one-third
in either direction, we would be out of balance," said Birkhofer,
the company's lobbyist. Referring to tales he has heard of party
officials demanding partisan purity by PACs this year, Birkhofer
said, "I have to tell you that that kind of message would not be
especially well received here."

LOAD-DATE: June 5, 2000

Previous Document Document 35 of 85. Next Document


Search Terms: "Patients Bill of Rights"
To narrow your search, please enter a word or phrase:
About LEXIS-NEXIS® Academic Universe Terms and Conditions Top of Page
Copyright © 2001, LEXIS-NEXIS®, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.