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Congress Funded by D.C. Interests

October 28, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

If campaign contributions buy favors from lawmakers, almost every member of Congress owes a lot more to special interests in Washington, D.C. than they do to their constituents. A report just released by shows that 79 percent of campaign contributions to members of the House of Representatives came from out-of-district.

MapLight’s Dan Newman: “This report shows that our campaign finance system is broken. This remote control system works well for big oil and Wall Street, but not for voters. We as citizens need to grab the remote control back from the hands of big-money interest groups. We need to reform our broken system so that Representatives can focus on voters, not dialing long-distance for dollars.”

According to the report, Rep. Fortney Stark (D-CA) received the most out-of-district money, with a staggering 99.6 percent of his campaign money coming from people and interests other than his constituents. Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) received the least from outside his district, just 10.5 percent. Click here to see where your Representative stands on the list; if you don’t know your Representative’s name, use out look-up tool near the bottom left of the OpenCongress homepage.

Of the 421 Members of the House of Representatives included in the report, 408 of them got more than half of their campaign money from outside their district. And of the top 20 zip codes giving to candidates, 15 of them are in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding metro area. According to the report, D.C. is “the source of $146,807,711, which is 21% of all contributions. With only 0.2% of the U.S. population, Washington, DC has fewer residents than every state except Wyoming. Washington, DC and its surrounding areas are home to scores of lobbying firms and political action committees.”

UPDATE: Over at the Sunlight blog, Ellen Miller added this important comment on the report:

>No wonder? MAPLight included PAC contributions and considered them all out of state, if they had a Washington, D.C. address. But that’s an unorthodox methodology since PACs often represent interests in a members’ district. Normally this kind of in-state/out of state analysis is done based on individual giving only. MAPLight’s methodological decision skews the numbers dramatically toward DC donors.

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