Money, politics and Congressional committees

In case you missed it, NPR’s Planet Money teamed this past weekend with This American Life (TAL) and the nonprofit Sunlight Foundation for an eye-opening report on money and politics, and how that relationship has evolved (devolved?) in recent years.  If you’re a fan of government transparency be sure to check it out.

Some of you may be shocked – shocked! – to hear this, but Congressional members on both sides of the aisle depend on cash from lobbyists for their campaign coffers.  That’s not new, but this report takes it a step further. It gives a look at the link between committee assignments and their fundraising potential.

For example, an assignment on the House Ways and Means Committee, which covers the nation’s tax code, offers those lawmakers $250,000 more in donations than the average member of Congress.  In terms of fundraising, it’s the top draw.

Palm Springs Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack, who represents most of the Coachella Valley, sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Those members receive a $142,000 boost in fundraising, making it the third most lucrative committee draw, according to the radio report.

But a good committee assignment can be a curse as much as a blessing: Congressional members are also pressured to hit fundraising targets set by their party leadership.

Listen to the whole enlightening broadcast here.