The Sunlight Foundation
and the Center for Responsive Politics
have released an extremely timely and thorough expose,
", involving "hidden" Congressional campaign contribution bundling by health care special interests. Here's their 1-2-3 on the investigation:
The investigation identified outside lobbyists that donated to the same members of Congress as their clients, and strongly suggests that special interest giving is enhanced by the K Street contributors they hire...
There is no indication that the extra giving by lobbyists was part of a planned effort by the healthcare firms to solidify their support among key members of Congress. But whether coordinated or not, the newly-found clusters of lobbyist giving clearly illustrate the intensity of the full-court press that the industry is currently waging on Capitol Hill.
In all, 61 members of Congress39 in the Senate, 22 in the House, 38 Democrats and 23 Republicansgot money from 10 or more outside lobbyists whose healthcare or health insurance industry clients also contributed to their campaigns.
Sen. Max Baucus, the Senate Finance Committee chairman who recently voted down two public-option amendments, was the third largest recipient after Republicans Sen. John McCain and Sen. Mitch McConnell. (click the chart to enlarge). Of the 61 members, only two New Mexican names turn up: Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. Martin Heinrich, both Democrats.
According to the research, Udall
accepted $2,250 from two health-related organizationsRoche Holdings and UnitedHealthwhich was then "enhanced" ten-fold by $22,700 in donations from 21 lobbyists. Heinrich
accepted $2,250 from Amgen, which was then amplified by $9,850 from 11 lobbyists.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, one of the original "gang of six" assigned to hash out a health reform bill and one of the eight Senate Finance members to vote for both public option amendments, was not one of the 61 Congressmen. Nor was Rep. Ben R. Lujan or Rep. Harry Teague.