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Special Interests Woo Super Congress Members With Campaign Cash

Thursday, 27 October 2011 07:58 By Aaron Mehta and Sandy Johnson, iWatch News | News Analysis

The 12 members of the deficit-cutting Super Congress might be the most popular people in Washington. As they deliberate how to identify more than $1 trillion in spending cuts, special interests are determined to protect their pet programs — and one way to do so is with campaign contributions.

The committee held a rare public meeting Wednesday, and the debate centered on potential savings from the Defense Department budget, given President Obama’s decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq by year’s end. Any cuts to defense spending won’t sit well with defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Honeywell, who — among others — have been trying to bullet-proof themselves with campaign contributions.

In just six weeks after the committee members were named, political action committees for almost 100 special interests ponied up more than $300,000  in contributions to the lawmakers. The donations will continue to pour in until the committee has finished its work shortly before Thanksgiving.

Formed as part of a compromise in late July between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the committee must come up with $1.5 trillion or more in budget savings, enough to match increases in the government's ability to borrow enough money to pay its bills through the beginning of 2013. The whole Congress is required to take an up-or-down vote on the committee’s recommendations by Dec. 23.

Sandy Johnson

Sandy Johnson is the Managing Editor of Politics and Government at iWatch.

Johnson spent most of her 30-year-career at The Associated Press, where she oversaw the wire service’s coverage of the federal government, elections and politics as Washington bureau chief from 1998 to 2008. Under her stewardship, the 120-person Washington bureau won numerous journalism awards for its investigative and political coverage, and stood apart on election night 2000 when Johnson refused to call the winner of the presidential race while the outstanding votes were in question and could tip the presidency either way. As a result, AP was the lone major news outlet in the exit-poll consortium that did not have to reverse its election call. Johnson was subsequently recognized as a Pulitzer finalist for her courage in resisting the pressure to follow the media pack. In 2009-10, she designed and implemented state news content for 28 million readers of the AARP Bulletin.

Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta covers the Accountability beat for iWatch, a unit of the Center for Public Integrity, reporting on waste, fraud and whistleblowers in the federal government. Since coming to the Center for Public Integrity as an intern in 2008, he has covered a wide range of topics, including campaign finance, oil spills and government spending. Originally from the Boston area, Mehta graduated with honors from Tufts University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in history and communications.

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Special Interests Woo Super Congress Members With Campaign Cash

Thursday, 27 October 2011 07:58 By Aaron Mehta and Sandy Johnson, iWatch News | News Analysis

The 12 members of the deficit-cutting Super Congress might be the most popular people in Washington. As they deliberate how to identify more than $1 trillion in spending cuts, special interests are determined to protect their pet programs — and one way to do so is with campaign contributions.

The committee held a rare public meeting Wednesday, and the debate centered on potential savings from the Defense Department budget, given President Obama’s decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq by year’s end. Any cuts to defense spending won’t sit well with defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Honeywell, who — among others — have been trying to bullet-proof themselves with campaign contributions.

In just six weeks after the committee members were named, political action committees for almost 100 special interests ponied up more than $300,000  in contributions to the lawmakers. The donations will continue to pour in until the committee has finished its work shortly before Thanksgiving.

Formed as part of a compromise in late July between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the committee must come up with $1.5 trillion or more in budget savings, enough to match increases in the government's ability to borrow enough money to pay its bills through the beginning of 2013. The whole Congress is required to take an up-or-down vote on the committee’s recommendations by Dec. 23.

Sandy Johnson

Sandy Johnson is the Managing Editor of Politics and Government at iWatch.

Johnson spent most of her 30-year-career at The Associated Press, where she oversaw the wire service’s coverage of the federal government, elections and politics as Washington bureau chief from 1998 to 2008. Under her stewardship, the 120-person Washington bureau won numerous journalism awards for its investigative and political coverage, and stood apart on election night 2000 when Johnson refused to call the winner of the presidential race while the outstanding votes were in question and could tip the presidency either way. As a result, AP was the lone major news outlet in the exit-poll consortium that did not have to reverse its election call. Johnson was subsequently recognized as a Pulitzer finalist for her courage in resisting the pressure to follow the media pack. In 2009-10, she designed and implemented state news content for 28 million readers of the AARP Bulletin.

Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta covers the Accountability beat for iWatch, a unit of the Center for Public Integrity, reporting on waste, fraud and whistleblowers in the federal government. Since coming to the Center for Public Integrity as an intern in 2008, he has covered a wide range of topics, including campaign finance, oil spills and government spending. Originally from the Boston area, Mehta graduated with honors from Tufts University in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in history and communications.

Related Stories

Super Committee: Dems Propose Big Cuts, New Taxes on Rich
By Robert Pear, Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times News Service | Report

Hide Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus