Lawyers, other pols top donors to state law­mak­ers

The News-Times - - OPINION - By Ana Rade­lat

WASH­ING­TON — When Rep. Ja­hana Hayes de­cided to run for Congress last year, she had no po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and deep wor­ries that she could raise enough money to run a cred­i­ble cam­paign.

Hayes, a Demo­crat, be­gan her run for Congress later than other can­di­dates, in­clud­ing her GOP ri­val Manny San­tos, be­cause the for­mer his­tory teacher did not de­cide to en­ter the race un­til for­mer Rep. El­iz­a­beth Esty an­nounced she would not run for re-elec­tion. That was just about six months be­fore Novem­ber’s elec­tion.

Hayes needn’t have wor­ried. She raised nearly $1.9 mil­lion to win the 5th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict seat that stretches across the north­west sec­tion of the state — thanks in part to the gen­eros­ity of those who would be her Capi­tol Hill col­leagues.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics, Demo­cratic mem­bers of Congress gave Hayes a to­tal of $187,050 in the last elec­tion cy­cle, more than any oth­ers linked to a spe­cific in­dus­try, in­ter­est group or pro­fes­sion.

Law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the House Demo­cratic lead­er­ship like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DCalif., Ma­jor­ity Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Ma­jor­ity Whip James Cly­burn, DS.C., gave to Hayes from their per­sonal cam­paign com­mit­tees and from their lead­er­ship po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees.

“Her sup­port from mem­bers of Congress demon­strated the faith that they had in her abil­ity to hit the ground run­ning on be­half of the peo­ple of the Fifth Dis­trict,” said Hayes cam­paign spokes­woman Bar­bara El­lis.

The do­na­tions may have also been spurred by the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sion to make the race a pri­or­ity. Other fresh­men, in­clud­ing Reps. Ayanna Press­ley, D-Mass., and Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, D-N.Y., re­ceived much less money from Demo­cratic law­mak­ers.

The cen­ter’s anal­y­sis fo­cused on do­na­tions in the amount of $50 or more, be­cause fed­eral elec­tion law re­quires the dis­clo­sure of the donor’s work­place and oc­cu­pa­tion.

Other than the money from fel­low Democrats, Hayes’s fundrais­ing was not un­re­mark­able for a mem­ber of Congress from Connecticu­t.

The se­cond largest group of donors to Hayes’s cam­paign were lawyers and lob­by­ists, who gave about

$130,000. Third on the list were peo­ple and PACs tied to the se­cu­ri­ties and in­vest­ment in­dus­tries. Those fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests gave the Hayes cam­paign about

$112,000, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics.

In­di­vid­u­als and PACs in the ed­u­ca­tional field were

11th from the top on the list of donors, con­tribut­ing

$37,291 to the cam­paign of the for­mer his­tory teacher and for­mer Na­tional Teacher of the Year.

Each mem­ber of Connecticu­t’s del­e­ga­tion to the U.S. House raised more than $1 mil­lion in po­lit­i­cal cash in the last cam­paign cy­cle. And Rep. Jim Himes, D-4, raised

$2 mil­lion, the only mem­ber of the House del­e­ga­tion to at­tract more po­lit­i­cal money than Hayes.

Connecticu­t’s law­mak­ers raised most of their cam­paign money in a tra­di­tional way, from con­stituents and peo­ple em­ployed by home­s­tate in­dus­tries, or lob­by­ists and oth­ers rep­re­sent­ing spe­cial in­ter­ests in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. re­lated to the law­mak­ers’ own com­mit­tee as­sign­ments.

That’s why the top donors to the cam­paign of Rep. John Lar­son, who rep­re­sents the Hart­ford area and sits on the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, were in­di­vid­u­als and PACs tied to the in­sur­ance in­dus­try, who gave $260,774.

For Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2, who rep­re­sents Elec­tric Boat and Naval Sub­ma­rine Base New Lon­don and sits the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, the top group of donors were tied to de­fense.

In the last cam­paign cy­cle, health pro­fes­sion­als ac­counted for the sin­gle largest con­tri­bu­tion from a group to the cam­paign of Rep. Rosa DeLauro, (D-3). She is the chair­woman of the House Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee with au­thor­ity over the bud­get of the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices.

Himes, who sits on the House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, raised $274,367 from the se­cu­ri­ties and in­vest­ment in­dus­try, fol­lowed by $174,055 from the in­sur­ance in­dus­try, $105,375 from the real es­tate in­dus­try and $103,575 from com­mer­cial banks.

Univer­sity of Connecticu­t po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor Ronald Schurin said the do­na­tions from in­dus­tries with busi­ness be­fore the House Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee may have made Himes “more re­cep­tive to their pleas re­gard­ing the oner­ous bur­den of reg­u­la­tion.”

“But I can­not think of any be­hav­ior by any of these rep­re­sen­ta­tives that seems to be in­flu­enced by their donors,” he said.

Schurin also pointed out that none of Connecticu­t’s law­mak­ers had com­pet­i­tive races last year.

“So the mo­ti­va­tion for those who do­nated was not to win an elec­tion, but to main­tain a friend­ship with an in­cum­bent,” he said.

The Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics also an­a­lyzed con­tri­bu­tions to the cam­paigns of Connecticu­t’ se­na­tors from 2013 to the end of last year.

Sen. Chris Mur­phy raised more than $15 mil­lion in that six-year pe­riod, with lawyers and lob­by­ists top­ping the lists of donors and con­tribut­ing about $1.3 mil­lion to the se­na­tor’s cam­paign.

Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal raised more than $9 mil­lion, nearly $1.6 mil­lion from lawyers and lob­by­ists.

Blu­men­thal sits on the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

Dan Freed­man / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

Rep. Ja­hana Hayes, D-Conn., shortly af­ter tak­ing the Oath of Of­fice in Wash­ing­ton D.C. on Jan. 3.

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