Speaking of Blanche Lincoln | Arkansas Blog

Speaking of Blanche Lincoln


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Paul Barton has an interesting report on how Sen. Lincoln is mining Texas for campaign cash. Democrats there are throwing money into a losing cause by backing Democrats there, apparently, so they've looked elsewhere.

Barton's report also reports Lincoln's first report of "bundled" PAC contributions -- Wal-Mart and hedge funds have packaged chunks of cash for her.

By Paul Barton

March 1, 2010


Lincoln’s Texas Connection



By Paul Barton



WASHINGTON – Sen. Blanche Lincoln has been getting large amounts of campaign dollars from Texas for her re-election fight this year and now a newspaper report explains why.


   A weekend story by the Washington bureau of The Houston Chronicle reported that many well-heeled Democrats in Texas, especially Houstonians, are pouring their money into Democrats in other states because of their party’s increasingly smaller role in Texas politics.


   “Eight of the top 10 non-Texas recipients of Lone Star State political money are Democrats,” the story said.

It added: “Experts say the Texas Democratic political pipeline is, in large part, the result of minority status of home-state Democrats – which leaves wealthy donors and other political activists with limited options inside of Texas.”

And Houston, the city in Texas that exports the most political cash, gives two-thirds of its donations to Democrats.

One of the political analysts cited said giving generously to candidates in other states is a way for donors “to get more bang for their buck” in terms of influence over national policy.


Of  those Democrats, the top two recipients of Texas money are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Lincoln.

Through the end of 2009, Lincoln had received $345,558 in money from Texas, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research organization. The total reflects contributions from individuals who gave at least $200, the threshold for disclosing individual contributions. It’s more money in individual contributions than she has received from any other state except Arkansas, the center reports on its Web site. Her individual contributions from Arkansas total $1.27 million. In all, she has raised more than $7.1 million for her re-election and had more than $5 million in cash on hand at the end of 2009.

In all, the money Texas Democrats have given to Lincoln and fellow Senate moderates, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Evan Bayh of Indiana, totals more than $1 million, the Chronicle article said.

Former Texas Gov. Mark White, a Democrat, is quoted as saying he gave $2,300 to Lincoln because of her cooperation with Texans on energy issues.

“Blanche Lincoln is one of the most outstanding members of our Senate,” he said. “Texas has an interest in her campaign because she’s a next-door neighbor and we’ve always kind of worked together.”

In other news related to Lincoln and campaign cash, she is the first and only Arkansas federal candidate to disclose who some of her “bundlers” are, according to recent postings on the Federal Election Commission’s Web site. The term refers to lobbyists and political action committees which gather together or “bundle” campaign checks from large numbers of individuals and forward them to candidates.

A campaign finance law that Congress passed in 2007 called for candidates to begin disclosing in 2009 the names of lobbyists or PACs who bundle together at least $16,000. But they only have to report when they have a combination of at least two lobbyists or PACs crossing that threshold.

Lincoln’s latest FEC filing lists the following bundlers and the amount of cash they gathered for her in the final six months of 2009:

-        Investment Company Institute PAC: $31,400.

-        Melissa Maxfield of Comcast: $17,300.

-        Ray Bracy of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.: $27,400.

-        Managed Funds Association: $24,000.

The Managed Funds Association is one of the main lobbying groups for the hedge fund industry.

One of the ideas behind the law, passed after the Jack Abramoff scandal, was to shed additional light on the influence of lobbyists who help raise campaign money. But critics say the disclosure rules allow a lot of lobbyist-related fundraising to go unreported.

For instance, records kept by the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group, show numerous lobbyist-organized fundraisers for Democrat Mike Ross. But apparently none of the lobbyists or PACs helping him crossed the disclosure threshold. There are no bundling reports filed by Ross or his leadership PAC for 2009.

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