by Jeff Woods
An analysis of campaign finance data by the Public Campaign Action Fund finds a fairly strong correlation between private industry donations and opposition to health care reform. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate who voted against proposed legislation this congressional cycle, the report found, received roughly 65 percent more money from health and insurance interests than those who supported the bills. When it came to the Blue Dogs in particular, that data showed that the seven members who sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee -- Reps. Mike Ross (Ark.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Charlie Melancon (La.), Jim Matheson (Utah), John Barrow (Ga.), Bart Gordon (Tenn.) and Zach Space (Ohio) -- have received, on average, $711,828 from the health and insurance sectors. Other Democrats on the committee, by contrast, have received an average of $628,023. Not all the Blue Dogs partook at such high levels. Space, for instance, has raised only slightly more than $200,000 from those two sectors, according to Public Campaign Action Fund. But on the whole, these self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives have found their coffers filled by the industries over which they now have massive legislative sway. Gordon has received more than $1.4 million in donations; Matheson got slightly more than $1 million. Ross, who is leading the Blue Dog negotiations, took in more than $980,000.So you see, Rex, the Blue Dogs are the really the Lap Dogs for health and insurance interests. And they like it that way. It's one helluva scam. The more they buck the party leadership, the more the cash comes in. The money even flows down to the staff level.
An analysis of lobbying reports done by the Huffington Post reveals that several former staffers for these seven Energy and Commerce Committee members have also served as lobbyists for major pharmaceutical companies. For instance, after serving as Gordon's legislative director, Louis Finkel was employed by Lent, Scrivner & Roth. The firm earned $920,000 in lobbying fees from Pfizer between 2001 and 2006, with Finkel acting as a lobbyist for the client.